Stratton steps on unfamiliar stage

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It’s no secret that I love to challenge myself to step outside the comfort zone. In 2011, a few years after I’d experienced two coronary events and had no small amount of fear about having another one I might not survive, I trained (i.e. walked) before participating in my very first Bloomsday. It was the first time EVER I’d had a race bib pinned to my body.

I walked the entire Bloomsday course that day, buoyed by the support of my sisters and daughters and carrying my little bottle of nitro pills, making it up Doomsday Hill to look that buzzard in the eye, crossing the finish line with literally only a few minutes to spare. In my age group of 55-59 year-olds there were 1,899 people. I finished 1,892nd. But at the end of the day my finishers T-shirt looked exactly the same as those who’d finished an hour or two ahead of me. It was an exhilarating sense of accomplishment and a realization that victory is in the journey.

This past Saturday, Juli Stratton, founder and executive director of the North Idaho Pride Alliance, competed in the Empire Classic Women’s Physique event. I met Juli a year ago at the NIC Day of Dialogue where she received the Community Leader of the Year award as a founding organizer of PFLAG-Coeur d’Alene and working with LGBT youths. She’s a compelling person in deed and physical stature at 6-feet tall.

Juli would also be one of the last people I would imagine participating in a body building competition, wearing a bikini and sporting a spray tan. I suspect a few months ago she would have agreed with me. But a journey she began by getting fit and challenging herself resulted in stepping outside her comfort zone.

“My understanding of those competitions was that they are hyper-feminine and very judgmental. Something I didn’t want any part of,” said Juli, 51. Eventually she decided to go all in and began the grueling training. On the day before the event she proclaimed, “My goals: own the stage, own who I am, challenge gender perceptions, and be me!”

Own the stage she did, and although she didn’t bring home a trophy, Juli says that her victory was that she did it. Amen to that!

• • •

Tyree Riggs is a wife and a mother to two young sons and cover-model beautiful. She’s also an artist, creating in metals ... with a welding torch and an eye for both realism and the abstract. Tyree donated a 6 foot by 3 foot original oil painting on sheet metal with a custom fabricated aluminum frame that’s a work of art in and of itself, to the NIPAC event this past Saturday. The guest auctioneer was Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who was so impressed with the art and the application of welding, he quipped that Tyree should join the marketing team for technical education in Idaho. On cue, Tyree struck the iconic Rosie the Riveter pose. John Stone was the victor in a spirited bidding war for the art piece.

Tyree’s work is featured at Art Spirit Gallery in downtown Coeur d’Alene through May 6.

• • •

In memory of John Panther, who passed away last week. In February, John was mentioned in this column when I wrote about the St. Vincent homeless warming center staff providing a cake to celebrate John’s 60th birthday. The sweet moment was captured on video and the look of joy on John’s face is one I’ll remember. John Panther had people who loved him, friends who will miss him and family in all of the ways the word is defined.

Often the homeless in our communities are viewed through a one-dimensional lens. John was a kind man, frequently seen riding his bicycle when weather permitted. For the couple of years that we’d been acquainted, our interactions were of the “good morning” and “hello” variety. I learned more about John’s background in the past few days than I did in those two years.

His final resting place will be in Oklahoma with family but the memory of a man with a good heart and challenges he simply couldn’t overcome will remain here for a long time. Go rest high upon that mountain, John Panther.

A public memorial service for John takes place on Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Second Street Commons, Second and Indiana in Coeur d’Alene.

• • •

Tonight is the annual Community Business Fair hosted by the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce at the Greyhound Park and Event Center. Nearly 100 local businesses will be displaying their wares. 4-7 p.m., free admission, free parking and families welcome.

Thursday, renowned guitarist Brad Richter performs at the Jacklin Arts and Cultural Center as part of his 11th year in residency with Post Falls High School student musicians. 7 p.m., 457-8950.

Saturday morning the annual city of Post Falls E-Recycling and Prescription Drug Turn In Day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at City Hall. The Coeur d’Alene Chamber’s Rock of Auctions Awesome Auction at 5 p.m. at the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort. Also on Saturday, the 11th annual Sorensen Auction and Soiree at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds at 5:30 p.m. in support of Sorensen’s arts and humanities programs.

• • •

Happy birthday today to Marilyn Desjarlais (60!), Sandy Landberg, Patrick Lippert, Tim Skelton and Doneda Allen. Tomorrow, Dee Sasse, Steve Kane, Frank Jackson and Brittney Blaski take another trip around the sun.

Friday birthdays belong to Glorie Ward, Tootie Reynolds, Martin Teall, Linette Freeman, Sue Barnard, Beth Bollinger, Barb Forgacs, Star Hart, Corinna Whiting, Jana Pool, Kristina Lallatin, Caitlin Rielly (21!) and Larry Locke.

On Saturday Steve Wilson, Tanner Mort, Chris Cooper, Stephanie Brodwater, Jeremy Jones (30!), Patty Muhlhauser and Susan O’Neill make a wish. Bailey Jaworski, Michele Jensen, Christina Bollman, Keith Ekness, Luke Griffin, Louise Zimmerman and Jai Nelson will party on the last day of April.

Happy May Day birthdays to Jeri DeLange, Suanne Harris and Diane Duncan. On May 2 Becca Atkinson, John DeLuca, Jan Bryant, Miranda Hamilton, Tre Lewis and Randy Hurt will blow out the candles.

• • •

Kerri Rankin Thoreson is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the former publisher of the Post Falls Tribune. Main Street appears every Wednesday in The Press and Kerri can be contacted on Facebook or via email mainstreet@cdapress.com. Follow her on Twitter @kerrithoreson.

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