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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Longtime Bloomsday participant doesn’t let knee problems keep her from crossing finish line

When Jackie Gleason had surgery for a damaged knee ligament in January, the second-grade teacher gave her doctor an ultimatum.

“After I popped my ACL skiing, I kind of looked at the doctor and said, ‘I’ll be doing Bloomsday if my friends have to carry me,’” Gleason said. “Bloomsday is just that important to me.”

For 36 consecutive years, the Spokane resident has participated in the race.

Two years ago, she waited until after Bloomsday to schedule a total knee replacement on her other knee.

Gleason, now in her 60s, has walked the course with a cast from a severe ankle sprain. She walked it when she was 8 months pregnant. And she walked it after a brain aneurism five years ago that she feels lucky to have survived.

“It’s kind of a symbol of getting past a whole bunch of stuff,” she said. “I get teary-eyed every time I cross the finish line.”

The year, Gleason will be walking with a co-worker from Medical Lake’s Michael Anderson Elementary School, where she teaches. She’ll take a camera to snap images along the route.

Because of the ACL surgery, Gleason expects to finish the 12-kilometer race in a slower time than her usual 2 hours.

“Someone said, ‘Are you going to win?’ and I said, ‘Yes, because I’ll cross the finish line,’” Gleason said. “It’s good to be alive and to be able to do these things.”

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