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Paralyzed former LAPD officer takes on a new challenge in endurance bike race for charity


Kristina Ripatti, a former Los Angeles Police Department officer who was shot and paralyzed in the line of duty in 2006, is training for a new challenge -- the 3,000-mile Race Across America.

Competing as part of a four-person relay team in June, Ripatti, 37, will help raise money for Operation Progress. Founded by LAPD Officer John Coughlin, the charity provides college scholarships for youths in gang-infested areas.

Ripatti, using a hand cycle, and her team must complete the Oceanside-to-Annapolis trek within 216 hours, about nine days.  Her husband, LAPD gang officer Tim Pearce, will be part of her crew during the round-the-clock race.

Ripatti was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by a man who had just robbed a gas station in South Los Angeles on June 3, 2006.

It won't be the first time that Ripatti has used her hand cycle to raise money for Operation Progress: Last year she completed the Boston Marathon.  She and Pearce have long been involved with the charity, which they see as a way of helping youths who resist the constant pressures to join gangs.  The organization already has helped send 35 high school students to college.

More information can be found at operationprogress.org and raceacrossamerica.org.

-- Jean Merl

Photo: Ripatti leaving the hospital. Los Angeles Times

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