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Paralyzed ex-LAPD officer to race for charity

March 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Former LAPD officer Kristina Ripatti-Pearce is preparing to travel 3,000 miles across country in the charity event, Race Across America."We're going around the clock, so that's the hard part for nine days. There's going to be sleep deprivation because you're going to get only a few hours at a time to rest," said Ripatti-Pearce.

The event will be a challenge, but there seems to be no limit to what this former police officer can do.

It was four years ago that she was shot and paralyzed after responding to a robbery in progress.

Since then, she's only gotten tougher, acclimating to the new life and new challenges she faces.

She started to hand cycle, using that as a way to participate in various charity rides including last year's Boston Marathon, a kind of test to see what she can handle physically.

"Boston is considered to be one of the most difficult marathons and a lot of hills, Heartbreak Hill and all that," said Ripatti-Pearce.

Now, it's on to the even bigger challenge of Race Across America, which starts in Oceanside in June and ends in Annapolis, Maryland.

Money raised will go towards Operation Progress, an LAPD-sponsored charity that provides scholarships to students in gang-infested communities.

Kristina's husband Tim Pearce, who is part of her crew, is an LAPD officer who has worked in South L.A. for the past 13 years.

"As an officer, you can't always help them because you're dealing with the gangsters and the radio calls and things like that," said Pearce. "But you see them and you feel for them, but this is a way to take it another step."

Their racing team will consist of four riders and 16 crew members travelling non-stop for nine days.

"I like riding and this is a great cause," says Mark Burson, racing team member. "A chance to race across America for an organization like Operation Progress, I think it is an honor to be out there."

Operation Progress has already helped send 35 high school students to college. They hope this summer's race will help them continue that effort.