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Yvonne Howerton has plans.

The 48-year-old Citrus Heights native vows to live well into her 70s or more, with good spirit and with much to do and say.

Howerton already has a full plate. She is a wife to Rich, a mother of two adult children, and is a small-business owner — Just Tumble gymnastics in Roseville. She holds her family, faith and belief in President Donald Trump’s view of “freedom” close to her heart.

She is chatty about and fiercely outspoken on politics, so much so that she was in Washington on Wednesday for the Trump rally, where she was inspired by the peaceful protest part of the day — and then repulsed by those who stormed the Capitol.

Why go?

“To stand for freedom, because I believe in the Constitution and everything America is founded on,” Howerton said by phone from her Washington hotel room, her husband and their two little dogs nearby.

Howerton also headed east because life is short, with a sense of added urgency. She has cervical cancer, she said. It has metastasized to her lungs and to lymph nodes near her heart. Her next round of treatment is later this month. She clings to optimism and will not miss out on experiences.

“I’m optimistic,” Howerton said. “I know I’m sick but I don’t feel that I’m dying. I’m on medications, home remedies, taking a lot of greens, liquid-form greens.”

And the Howertons have a grandson on the way.

”So much to live for,” Howerton said. “I hope to be in remission. I’m busy, living. I have a medical scan on the 18th, a treatment on the 20th, a dog dental appointment on the 23rd, and then on the 24th, we head to Spokane for a month to be with the baby. So much to live for.

“I’m still alive for a reason, including to not keep my mouth shut on what I believe in regarding politics. I no longer censor my views.”

She censored for a while. Howerton said her husband initially frowned on her strong political takes on social media, such as Facebook. Will it hurt the business? Would people get snarky and flame off?

Her Facebook is full of strong pro-Trump political takes, including family group photos with a Trump flag. She apologizes for none of it.

“In 2016, when Trump won the election, I lost some family ties over my political views,” Howerton said. “As for our gym, we’re open for anyone. We have a lot of like-minded people. We’ve had the place for nearly 11 years. We closed like everyone else, then reopened, and we’ve gone against Gov. Newsom’s shutdown orders at times because we feel that exercise and kids activities are an essential, that kids need it for their health and mental health.

“I feel this way especially when Home Depot and Walmart are packed with people. Doesn’t make sense”

Trump movement before it soured

The Howertons said they shared similar talks with like-minded folks at the nation’s Capitol.

“The people we spoke to and stood with were good people, friendly, God-loving people, peaceful,” Howerton said. “We didn’t come across like the crazy people who entered the Capitol. They were not part of us. I didn’t feel that the media showed the peaceful part, just the bad part. What those crazy people did was extreme, way too extreme. It didn’t have to get like that. It was super sad.”

Howerton said she is not fearful of her own life. Not COVID-19, despite being at a higher risk with underlying conditions. Not anyone losing their minds at the Capitol and falling in the line of danger, though she immediately obeyed the curfew order and Trump’s suggestion people go home, because, “I wasn’t going to risk my life that way!”

“I’m going to continue to pray,” she said of herself and for people in general. “Maybe we needed this to happen in D.C. for the bigger picture. I’m scared to death of what’s happening in this country, the socialism movement, of freedoms being taken away. It seems like the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting more poor.”

Rich Howerton was initially leery of his wife going to Washington. He worried about her health in the biting cold, and he didn’t know what to expect with the crowds, who would show up to ruin the party. They decided to go because she wouldn’t accept no.

“I couldn’t bring my guns, maybe some pepper spray,” Rich said with a laugh. “Once we got here, I said, ‘Honey, thank you!’ To see the people and the camaraderie, it was epic. It made the hair on my arms stand up. The media didn’t show all the good things in the rally. People were peaceful, friendly — before it got bad. I’m not a fan of violence, and I’m pissed off that those guys broke into the Capitol. I’m sorry they did because they don’t represent all of us, and it really ruined the whole thing.”

He added, “But as a frustrated American, I get why people are angry. People are on edge, fearful that we could potentially be losing our freedoms.

Cancer scare and life in the fast lane

The Howertons have been married going on 24 years.

Son Austin, the father to be, played football at Del Oro High School and was part of the team’s first CIF State Bowl team in 2001. Daughter Kara grew up in gymnastics and cheer, which inspired the opening of Just Tumble gymnastics. She won a world-championship competition in cheerleading at 17, in 2013.

The Howertons are proof that husband-and-wife can run a business without driving each other batty.

May 31, 2017 was the day that turned their lives upside down: cancer. It was the second family blow for Howerton. When she was 11, Howerton lost her mother, Carolyn, to Leukemia, a cancer blood-forming tissues. She was 30.

“I think of her all the time, and she’s my angel assigned to me to get through my cancer,” Howerton said. “When I first got my diagnosis, I thought I was going to die. I cried for two weeks, a lot of self pity. Then I decided that I don’t have to die, that I can fight this, that I can be positive and optimistic, and I didn’t want my kids to be afraid of me dying, or my husband being afraid.”

Howerton said she got the blessing from “my chemo nurses, who are more excited that I’m living life and not living in fear. Keep doing what I’m doing.”

Joe Davidson has covered sports for The Sacramento Bee since 1988 and is award-winning authority on high school sports, specializing in going behind the scenes. Davidson was a high school athlete in Oregon, where he participated in football and track.

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