RITA LOSEE OF BRUNSWICK, an athlete who overcame a debilitating illness, had planned to do the Lobster Dip again after a hiatus, but freezing temperatures caused the annual Special Olympics fundraiser to be postponed. So instead, she did a snow angel challenge in her backyard on Tuesday.

RITA LOSEE OF BRUNSWICK, an athlete who overcame a debilitating illness, had planned to do the Lobster Dip again after a hiatus, but freezing temperatures caused the annual Special Olympics fundraiser to be postponed. So instead, she did a snow angel challenge in her backyard on Tuesday.

BRUNSWICK

She’s climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, competed in the Hawaiian Ironman and hiked the Appalachian Trail solo.

RITA LOSEE

RITA LOSEE

On Tuesday — wearing only shorts and T-shirt — she plopped into the snow in her backyard and made a snow angel, and that was an important milestone as well.

No stranger to adventure, Rita Losee of Brunswick had done Lobster Dips in 2009 and 2010 in Old Orchard Beach to raise money for Special Olympics. At that time of the 2010 dip, she was working part time, writing a book, exercising and socializing — she had a life.

“And within days after I did the last one in 2010 I got dreadfully, dreadfully ill,” Losee said. “I had what a call a major metabolic meltdown.”

Losee had been a very high-powered endurance athlete who had written a couple books, and had an extremely successful life. Suddenly, though, she couldn’t stand up without feeling she would faint.

“I basically was forced to be a couch slouch,” she said. “It was excruciatingly challenging for me not to be able to have a life.”

Mainstream medicine didn’t help and the medications she was on made her more sick. But primarily because of dietary supplements she’s been using, Losee now has a life again. She’s working, doing Yoga, running (she ran three 5Ks last year), and is working on a new book. She has a life again.

“So I decided to bookend that period of disability by doing the Lobster Dip again this year,” she said, “and then Mother Nature changed my mind.”

Freezing temperatures postponed this year’s dip last Saturday. Losee will be away next weekend when the rescheduled dip takes place, so, inspired by a friend, she decided to do a snow angel challenge in her own backyard instead.

“As a writer and speaker, I love words, so if I can’t find a word that pinpoints what I want to express, I make it up and one of my made up words is ‘scrilled’ — which is a combination of ‘scared’ and ‘thrilled,’” Losee said. “So for me, if I’m contemplating doing something and I’m simultaneously scared and thrilled, I know I’m in the sweet spot and it’s a good thing to do.”

The comfort zone she defines as “that barren area that surrounds you within which nothing new will grow.”

This West Bath native grew up climbing trees, jumping out of the hay mow, swimming and roughhousing with her brothers — and hearing stories of her grandfather, who in 1913 rode his bicycle on dirt roads from the University of Maine to West Bath. She has a picture of her maternal grandmother in a Morse High basketball uniform in 1906; not all that different from the uniform she wore herself in the 1950s. Losee believes being athletic and physical comes both by nature and nurture.

The snow angel challenge was also a statement to herself and the universe.

“I’m done being sick,” she said. “Chapter over, book closed.”

Asked if she might inspire others with her story of winning back her health, Losee said she considers herself a woman of “inspiration.”

Get inspired and take action, she said, “because inspiration without action is just another breath.”

As to her cause of choice: “One of the things that makes Special Olympics special to me is, I have a sister who was disabled and died at a very young age and I know that the heartache for my parents never ended,” Losee said. “I’m now taking care of a disabled child and seeing upfront and personal how difficult it is to parent those children.”

“The idea that I can make some contribution to, in some way, ease the distress of families with special needs kids, I am all there,” she added.

Her snow angel challenge is also a way she can add some meaning the experience she had as a disabled athlete while doing something that benefits other people who are disabled.

“I would absolutely love it if snow angels became what the ice bucket challenge was,” Losee said. “Would that be fun or what?”

To help her raise funds for Special Olympics Maine, visit firstgiving.com/fundraiser/ rita-losee/lobster-dip- 2018.

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