No one word or sentence alone can describe Jenna Parlette, but the phrase “JENNASTRONG” does a pretty good job by having its own definition of “Kindness, Competitiveness, Sense of Humor.”
Jenna was born on February 11, 1993, in Dayton, Ohio. She grew up in Miamisburg. She was very dedicated to being a “Viking” and an upstanding citizen of Miamisburg. Jenna always had a positive attitude and a very contagious smile. Her love of life was apparent in everything she did.
Jenna was diagnosed with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy in the 6th grade. With this diagnosis came many lifestyle changes, such as having to get 9 hours of sleep each night. Not only did this Jenna have changes to her daily life, but a unique course of obstacles to overcome arose as well. Jenna was not your average young lady, she was a gifted and very determined athlete. She didn’t let her diagnosis keep her from reaching her goals.
Jenna competed in cross country and track throughout high school and college. Along with epilepsy came another challenge to these sports. In the summer of 2008, Jenna collapsed during the Lyons Club race, and had to receive CPR by a doctor and a nurse on the course. It was discovered that Jenna had an irregular heartbeat. Doctors placed a pacemaker and a defibrillator to manage Jenna’s heart and her highly active lifestyle. Jenna, being her fun and lighthearted self, referred to her device as “Fibby.” Having “Fibby” did not stop Jenna from chasing her dreams. Frankly, nothing ever would. It was during this time that Jenna and her Papaw coined the phrase, “Run with your legs, win with your heart.” This would become the motto by which Jenna lived.
Jenna continued to be a standout runner and athlete throughout high school, and continued her running career at Wilmington College in 2011. She studied physical and health education and always wanted to help others. In addition to being an outstanding athlete, she maintained a 3.5 GPA and managed to work part-time. Jenna enjoyed her part-time jobs: teaching swimming lessons at the Sycamore Trails Aquatic Center and working with the Dayton Dragons. Jenna’s future plans had included attending graduate school at the University of Central Florida to study Exercise Physiology, with hopes to work in the field of Pediatric Cardiology. Jenna was looking forward to start this journey with an internship at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center where she had been treated.
Jenna was not only talented, she was dedicated to hard work. Coach Ron Combs, Wilmington College’s Cross Country/Track coach, said, “Jenna is a young lady who had excuses, but did not use them.” Jenna was willing to put in the extra effort to keep up with her daily training, sleep, diet, and medication. This extra effort did not stop Jenna, nor did it bring down her spirit. Jenna was a true joy to be around. She viewed her medical conditions as “everyone has obstacles they have to deal with.” These were hers. She was not afraid to talk about her conditions and was willing educate others. She spoke on many occasions for the American Heart Association. Jenna also did a commercial to educate teens on the importance of CPR.
Jenna had a strong sense of kindness and willingness to help others. She never had a negative thing to say about anything, and kept such a positive outlook on life. That positive outlook lifted the spirits of her friends, family, and competitors. On the course, a look of determination never left Jenna’s face, and she fought with everything she had from start to finish. This determination is the reason Jenna broke 3 school records during her time at Wilmington College, and was a top conference and regional competitor.
During a cross country race at Franklin, IN in 2013, Jenna was leading the pack with a 1st place finish in reach. Just meters before the finish line, Jenna collapsed. Three days later, Jenna passed, leaving an immediate legacy behind her. It was later found that Jenna had a mitochondrial disorder, meaning she was unable to produce ATP, the fuel for the cells.
JENNASTRONG was created to define everything Jenna Parlette stands for: hard work, kindness, and determination to chase one’s dreams no matter the obstacles. It is the hope of the Jenna Parlette Memorial Foundation that everyone can learn from Jenna’s personality to live life just as she did, to the fullest.