Archive for December, 2010

I decided to make a change in my training today because I did my long run last Sunday, instead of Saturday, and now I want to do another long run tomorrow (already Saturday again!). So I just ran 2 faster miles on the treadmill this morning. A short run, and not a whole lot of time to think.

Since I had already decided to write about family today, I stuck with that topic.

When Darren’s injury happened, my family was an incredible source of support. Our close friends were, too, but that is a whole ‘nother blog topic! My mother stayed with us for the 10 days in Philadelphia and came to Atlanta twice while Darren was at the Shepherd Center. I talked with her constantly while we were apart, and when she was with me, she always had the right things to say to support and encourage us. She was a “rock” during a very unsteady time period. My daughter, Arianne, also was strong as could be, and never wanted to leave her brother’s side. She did everything that was asked of her, and more, even while things she wanted or needed to do were neglected.  Fortunately, she had a good support group herself, and some of our closest friends made sure she was taken care of.

My husband, John, has probably struggled the most, but even he has done what was necessary, and we are the stronger for it, as a couple and as a family.

My sister, her husbnad and daughter were there for us as much as possible, making sure we had food and were taking care of ourselves. Even from home, Michele did a lot of research for us, and was always available to talk, even during the darkest days. I remember Darren commenting at one point, “I’ve never spent this much time talking to my cousin.”

And that comment brings me to my thought for this topic – enjoy your family, appreciate what you do for each other, tell them you love them. Don’t wait for a catastrophic event to reconnect. Stay in touch with each other! How often do people say they only see family at weddings and funerals? We do not have an extended family we stay in touch with, but I sure do appreciate the family I have much more these days. I try not to take them for granted.

I have seen many different families react and deal with situations like a spinal cord injury very differently. Of course, there is no right or wrong way to deal with such a life changing event. But staying strong, and talking, talking, talking definitely can help. I am proud of the families I see of our Push to Walk clients. They are struggling, no doubt, but they are trying. And I try to help whenever and wherever I can. I’m no expert, but I care about each and every one of our clients and their families. We are all one big “family” and I am especially grateful for all the support I receive from them, too.


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I was hopeful that my 40 minute run today would go more smoothly than a few days ago.  I was determined to stay focused, and run better. Thinking about our Push to Walk client, Lori, helped me do just that. Always with a smile on her face, despite her challenges and obstacles, Lori is one of the most upbeat people I know. She works full time as a Speech Language Therapist in a nearby school district and I can just imagine that her young students love her. She is full of personality and life. While life has thrown her lots of roadblocks, she manages to navigate through them, usually keeping a smile and her sense of humor. She has a wonderful husband and family, all of whom I’ve met over the last several years, who provide her with lots of love and support.

During my run, I was thinking of how the gym is lively and noisy when Lori is working out. Sometimes I have to go and see what’s going on, just to make sure they’re not having too much fun! But there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the workout while working hard – or so I’m told! Running for me isn’t exactly “fun,” but since I’m usually running solo. there’s not much socializing or conversation (except for those voices in my head – telling me what to write in my next blog!).

Seriously, though, Lori is the kind of person you just want to be around. A positive person, always willing and happy to help with whatever crazy project we happen to be doing. Wrapping at Border’s? Lori was there. Selling Push to Walk t-shirts at the Wellness Fair? Lori was there.  Planning a night out for clients? Of course, Lori was definitely there! She has helped with newspaper interviews, having her picture taken for our brochure, and hopefully will be filmed for an upcoming documentary. Living only a mile from Push to Walk helps, but I know Lori would do all of these things even if she weren’t so close. She is grateful for a special place and trained professionals to help her workout, and she repays with volunteering in any way she can. 

Thank you, Lori, for being part of our Push to Walk family. You always brighten my day! And today, you helped me run 4+ miles in a respectable manner!


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So you know when some days just don’t go as planned? When you had the best intentions. but they just didn’t work out? That’s what the whole last week has felt like! Of course, I totally enjoyed the Christmas holidays and all the activities that go with it, but staying focused on running was really tough! Add a nasty head cold to the picture, and you can imagine how I was struggling!

However……….my struggles pale in comparison to what I see others manage who have spinal cord injuries. Yes, I have to suck it up and get on with it. I think that is such a big part of my motivation and determination. What I’m feeling, what seems so hard – this is nothing! I tell myself – “just do it!” And so I run………..mostly now on the treadmill because of either the time of day or now the weather (got more than a foot of snow in NJ from Sunday to Monday!). And run I did – 6 miles on Sunday and I was actually feeling OK! Not bad considering I had taken several days off for the head cold. I have to adjust my training program a bit this week to make up for switching the day of my long run, but since I’m so early into the training program, that shouldn’t be hard to do.

I did try to focus on the whole concept of FAMILY while I was running, but I think I’ll leave that to my next entry. I feel like I’m rambling already………….stay tuned until next time!


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Well I missed a few days of blogging with Christmas and the craziness, but I’ll try to catch up on the holidays first, then will write a second blog about my training………..

Christmas Eve was a wonderful night spent with friends – a tradition we’ve had for at least 25 years! Our group has grown as our dear friend Ralph’s daughter Jill married George, and now they have 2 beautiful children. We miss Lucille terribly, though. She always enjoyed our annual gathering,  and it’s still strange without her. This year, our close friends Shelley and Bernie couldn’t be with us, and of course they were missed as well. But we did add my daughter’s boyfriend, Chad, and that was fun! All in all, it was a great evening of eating, celebrating, exchanging gifts and chatter all around. Always one of my favorite Christmas activities!

During the day on Christmas Eve, a bunch of volunteers wrapped purchases at Border’s in Riverdale. Thank you to all those who helped! I didn’t even wrap this year because of my dreadful head cold, but thankfully I had enough volunteers to wrap for me. Over the three days we wrapped, we raised almost $500 for Push to Walk! Excellent!

Christmas Day was very nice, with my sister, her husband and daughter staying at our house. And Chad, too! We opened presents for a LONG time, taking turns and showing everyone what we opened. It was very civilized, but FUN! We did lots of eating, and entertained some friends in the Kasper family mid-day. After a very nice dinner (if I may say so myself!), we relaxed and took it easy. Then it was opening more presents when Darren’s girlfriend arrived around 10 pm. When midnight arrived, I was ready for bed!

What a wonderful day!!!


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I had the best intentions of thinking about one particular client today, and dedicating my training to that person, but I was not successful. I was thinking about SO many other things; I couldn’t stay focused. I didn’t feel especially well, I forgot to put my knee brace on, and I was trying to analyze whether my new running shoes and inserts were OK. So my mind was everywhere. I did manage to complete my entire training session, though, so I was happy about that! Another 4.75 miles into the journal!

I was thinking about the successful music event at Bardi’s on Monday night, and realized (again) that not only are these small, local events great for raising funds, they are especially helpful in raising community awareness. I really appreciate the opportunity to spread the word about Push to Walk, and local venues are the perfect way to do that. Thanks again to the ShamRock School of Music, Vince Genella and his band “The Business” and to Bardi’s. I thought Darren made a great presentation, explaining his story, how Push to Walk started and how we help people with spinal cord injuries and paralysis. Good job, Darren!

I was also thinking about a brand new idea that came to me while running this morning. There is an awesome new movie called “Continue” that is all about adaptive sports and activities. The scenery is breathtaking and the story told through film is inspiring. I had been thinking of having a screening somehow/somewhere – another combination of raising community awareness and funds. But this morning I thought it would be a great idea to ask our three local colleges (all of whom we work with in one way or another) if this is a project that the film majors, a club or some other group would get behind and organize. I love the idea of having a screening on college campuses! If any of you readers out there have any suggestions about this idea, I’d love to hear them! Stay posted for details!

Tomorrow’s training will be on the exercise bike, and hopefully I can stay a little more focused! But creative thinking is good, too, I guess!

Until tomorrow,


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Last night was an incredible experience, the result of a combined effort of people who love music and want to promote a good cause. Randy Shamber of ShamRock School of Music in Pequannock, Bardi’s Bar and Grill in Pequannock and a local musician and ShamRock teacher, Vince Genella and his band “The Business” all worked together for the benefit of Push to Walk.

The music was outstanding, the food was delicious and the company was very enjoyable! Bardi’s provided a great atmosphere and fun was had by all!

In addition to putting together the students and the band, ShamRock donated a guitar that was raffled off for Push to Walk’s benefit. Those proceeds, along with donations collected at the door, totalled a whopping $967! AWESOME!

Thanks also to the Suburban Trends and WGHT 1500 Radio for their coverage both before and after the event.

I want to give a special shout out to our friends Ed and Stephanie Gerena who brought (or bribed!) at least 10 people to the show! Thank you for always caring and supporting our cause! Your generosity is very special.

In this season of giving, I am most encouraged that people choose to support Push to Walk when there are so many organizations worthy of their hard earned dollars. Thank you for your confidence in us, and I promise that we will always use your contributions to help our clients and others in need with spinal cord injuries.    


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Today I was thinking about all the caregivers I have met and conversed with in the 6+ plus years since my son Darren’s injury occurred. Most are parents, but there are spouses, adult children, siblings, friends and paid helpers. Probably other relationships I am missing, but these were the ones I was thinking of.

Like most other situations that you never dream being in or being a part of, the world of spinal cord injury is foreign and frightening. The whole issue of Darren’s care was so scary to me, that I wanted to bring one of the Shepherd Center aides home with us. Seriously! How would I ever be able to do all the things that were needed? Transferring with a hoyer lift, personal bowel and bladder care, showering, dressing…..the list seemed endless and overwhelming. With Shepherd Center’s Day Program, we learned to do most everything we would need to go home (by ourselves) and have confidence we would be OK.

Fast forward to my conversations with caregivers more recently. I hear the frustrations and the concern in finding the right person, keeping the right person, and how to balance care provided by family members with outside help. Even having a personal aide, many “jobs” fall on the shoulders of the family members closest to the person with an injury.

Today I was running for all those family members and close personal friends who help in thousands of ways to ensure the highest quality of life possible for their loved one who has a spinal cord injury. The moms, sisters, brothers, children and assorted others have either put their lives on hold or have greatly adjusted their lifestyle to do what is needed. I know there is grief, sadness and anxiety in seeing so many tasks, once taken for granted, so difficult to do on one’s own. But I also know there is great satisfaction in helping and assisting. Not only to accomplish those tasks, but to help our loved ones master new skills and adapt to new ways of doing things.

This run was for all of you who give of yourselves tirelessly and continuously, often sacrificing things near and dear to your heart. All for love – isn’t that what this season is all about? Celebrating love, celebrating life and celebrating each other.


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Saturday was my first official long run of my training program. I ran 5 miles, this time outside. It was a beautiful and clear, sunny day. I dressed for 20 degree weather, but it was actually in the 30’s, so I was a little overdressed. Oh well, better than freezing! The hills were a bit tough for me and I had to walk a little more than I wanted, but I was pleased with my overall time.

Today I was running for Jim, one of our Push to Walk clients. Jim is one of those people I could just talk for hours with. He is always interested in knowing how I am, how is my family, and how is Push to Walk doing. I remember when I was still writing the business plan for Push to Walk (yes, Jim has been a client for a while!), and I would discuss different parts of it with Jim. He was always ready and willing to ask questions and give me feedback.

At our recent “Ladies Night Out” for women clients and family members, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Jim’s sister Diane and his Mom, Pam. Even though we always call him Jim,” I know his family calls him “Jet.” I was curious about the origin, and had the opportunity to ask his sister.  According to Diane, their father didn’t want a son with the same first name, as he himself was a junior and didn’t want the eventual confusion that results in father and son having the same name. But when Jim was born, he was the fifth child after 4 girls and his father said “I don’t care what you name him!” So James the third was named, and they nicknamed him JET for James Edward the Third (at least I think the middle name is Edward. If not, my apologies – you’ll have to comment here and correct me!).

So now I’m thinking about Jim/Jet and his supportive family. I’ve met his parents and several of his sisters. They are a wonderful, caring group of people, dedicated to helping Jim when he needs them. As a high level injury, Jim has many challenges, but I sometimes forget how difficult his days must be because he never focuses on them. He is funny and has a great sense of humor. He can turn an ordinary statement into a smile and a laugh. He is kind, considerate and caring.

At times during my run, my legs felt heavy and hard to move. But I would think of Jim, whose legs are stiff when he’s sitting, but just want to “walk” when he’s up on the walker and treadmill. I kept thinking of the NY Jets football team and their slogan “Fly Like a Jet.”  Jim has started with awkward steps and help from the trainers, but seeing him tall and upright is such a wonderful sight. My wish is for Jim to fly like a Jet, too. I know you can do it!!

I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend!


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Last night we had a wonderful dinner out with our three Push to Walk trainers – Eric, Mike and Karla. It was also a Templeton family dinner as John, Darren and Arianne all came, too!  It was a wonderful way to celebrate the holiday and also let the trainers know how much they are valued and appreciated.  They each bring different qualities to the gym and their client workouts, but one thing is certain – they all love their work and give 150% to each and every workout. Thank you Eric, Mike and Karla!!

Since today was a cross training day, I didn’t have to worry TOO much about what I ate last night at dinner. That was a good thing, because Segovia Restaurant in Moonachie, NJ has the BEST Spanish food in the area! And I ate my share! My 10 miles on the indoor bike was relatively easy this morning, but now I have to gear up for a 5 mile run outside tomorrow. Hopefully the weather will be clear. I don’t mind the cold, as long as there’s no snow or ice on the roads. Wish me luck!

Enjoy the weekend! Happy shopping for those of you who still have lists to finish off!


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During my workout this morning (50 minutes total on the treadmill for 4.2 miles) I was running for Darren. Who better to start with? He is my inspiration and my motivation. When I think I just can’t run another minute, I think about what challenge he might be facing that very minute. Or what his challenges might have been yesterday or the day coming. Knowing there are many, I suck it up and keep on running. I thought about his days at the Shepherd Center, when he was battling constant fevers and infections. I thought about the wonderful people who worked there. I thought about the other patients and their families. I thought about the little apartment they provided for us, and the nights sleeping on a cot in the gym between leaving the apartment and moving into the hotel next door.

What I thought most about, though, was how far Darren has come since then. With a C5 spinal cord injury, he was very weak and not able to do much, if anything, for himself. It was heartbreaking then and still heartbreaking now when I recall those days and weeks. But he has made so much progress. And that’s what keeps me running during today’s workout. If he can keep going, striving and reaching goals, then so can I.

Today was for you, Darren.

Two quick things to mention:

I am following the book titled “Marathoning for Mortals” by John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield. It helped me with my full marathon and two half marathons, so I am confident in the program. Now just my body has to hold up!

You might want to check out Push to Walk’s website (www.pushtowalknj.org) and click on Family Corner. The title “E-mail Communications” details all of the e-mails I was sending out in the early days of Darren’s injury through the end of 2006. Hopefully our experiences will help others.

Until tomorrow,


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