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Archive for January, 2011

Tyler was one of Push to Walk’s first clients, and his family was involved right from the start. His girlfriend and parents took turns coming to his workouts with him, and we got to know each other pretty well. I always enjoyed talking with his Mom, and we helped each other with a variety of topics related to having sons about the same age with spinal cord injuries.

One of my most vivid memories of how supportive Tyler’s family is was involved with Push to Walk’s move from Bloomingdale to Riverdale. Not only did they lug stuff out of the old place and into the new, but they cleaned and cleaned: furniture, equipment, even the bathrooms!! I was really taken by that! Never in a million years did I think I’d have help cleaning the bathrooms! But they rolled up their sleeves and got right to it. I’ll never forget that day and all the help we had. Tyler’s girlfriend and family were a huge help!

We only see Tyler now when he has off from school. His schedule doesn’t allow  him to come to Push to Walk on a regular basis, but he comes when he can. He’s working on an aviation management degree with a concentration in Air Traffic Control and a minor in Professional Pilot. It’s a 4 year degree program culminating in an Aviation Management degree. After graduation, he plans on going to Oklahoma City for training at the FAA facility, then he’ll be eligible to be placed in a control tower. Flying is an interest near and dear to Tyler’s heart, and we wish him well in his studies and finishing up his degree!

During the winter, Tyler likes to go skiing and is helping out this year with the adaptive skiing program at one of the local mountains. In warmer weather, he enjoys hand cycling, and today while I was running I was thinking of Tyler completing the full marathon at Disney in January 2009 when Push to Walk had a group of people doing various events. Idid a half marathon at that time, actually my last official “race” before my current training. I laugh when I use the word “race” because my running could never be called “racing.” I’m just too slow! But I’m consistent and steady, which I hope will help me this time around, too! But that Disney Marathon Weekend was so much fun, and I hope the NJ Marathon weekend will prove to be even more exciting, as Team Push to Walk continues to sign up participants. Go to our website for the link if you are interested in running or supporting the team: www.pushtowalknj.org.   

Stay well, Tyler, and take care of yourself so you can reach your goals! I know you love what you’re doing. Work hard and enjoy all the good things in your life! We miss you!

Cynthia

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Yesterday’s Sunday newspaper featured Darren and Push to Walk on the front page of the Sunday Best section. Thank you to Lorraine Ash, an editor who received an e-mail and expressed an interest in what we’re doing, Bill Nutt, the reporter who interviewed us and wrote the story, and the photographer Bob Karp. We appreciate your interest in Push to Walk! 

I think the article really captures the essence of Push to Walk, and is very accurate. Our goal is to help the general public understand a little more about spinal cord injuries and the impact it has on everyday life. Also, we want people to know that with hope and a positive attitude, so much can be accomplished.

We will soon have the article on our website, but in the meentime, here’s a link to read it online at the Daily Record website:

http://www.dailyrecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2011110120041

Cynthia

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One of the many reasons I keep my husband John around is that he’s full of good ideas! As I comtemplated my Saturday run on Friday night, and the frigid temperatures expected for the morning, John suggested I run part of my miles inside on the treadmill and part outside. Since we had afternoon and evening plans, I had to run early, and that meant it would be really, really cold. So I did just that, and I have to say – I felt GREAT!  I ran 5.5 miles on the treadmill, changed into warm, dry clothing and headed outside. I was much more conscious of drinking enough water and eating gel packs than I was last week, and it paid off. Even after the whole 9 miles, I really felt good. Maybe this is a turning point in my training? I hope so!  

Today I was thinking about one of our first clients, Cindy. I always felt a certain tie to her, maybe because we share the same name, and we’re the same age, married, with kids, etc. Her injury was a result of a car accident, and I sensed a bitterness, understandably so, toward the person who was driving the car. Nevertheless, Cindy tried to be as positive as possible, especially when she came to Push to Walk for her workouts.

Cindy was one of Eric Prol’s (our trainer) first clients, and he drove to her house to work with her before we officially opened Push to Walk. At that time, Eric was driving to Ramapo College to work out with Darren in the school gym, to a client’s house in Passaic, and to Cindy’s way out Route 78 in western New Jersey. Needless to say, he was putting lots of mileage on his car!

Cindy would be accompanied to Push to Walk by her husband or an aide. There were certain parts of her workouts she would groan about, but always in a good-natured way, and the trainers always seemed to get her through the hard parts so she could do what she really wanted to do! I always enjoyed talking with Cindy, hearing about her horses and her family. We are all glad that Cindy had started riding her horse again, but then came the sad news that she had taken a fall off her horse, sustained some additional injuries and wouldn’t be back to Push to Walk for quite some time.

Once we moved to our current space in Riverdale, Cindy did come a few times, but keeping up the workouts and the long driving distance just became too tough. Cindy, I hope you are doing well, taking care of yourself, your family and your horses! Please let us know how you’re doing!

Cindy’s story reminds me of the effect that drive and motivation in outside interests can have on a person’s day to day life. I was so happy to hear that Cindy was once again able to ride her horse. That was a passion and a love that was part of her life, probably her very being. To lose that is like losing a part of yourself. That she took a bad fall was very unfortunate, but I do hope she has been up and riding again.

Here’s to Cindy and her horses, and the many people whose lives have been changed by spinal cord injury who still want to pursue their dreams and their interests. Don’t give up! You can do it! Maybe you have to figure out a new way, get help, or do things a bit differently, but I have seen so many people accomplish their goals. Go for it! Just do it! I know you can.

Cynthia

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I met Betty in the Fall of 1977 moving into my dorm room at Kean College. Betty was carrying a wicker hamper and I was, well, limping along on crutches! It was, obviously, a memorable meeting that I can recall in great detail even though it was more than 30 years ago! (I wonder why I’m even admitting that!) Wow, that was a long time ago, and much has happened in both of our lives since that fateful meeting. Betty is one of my dearest and best friends, to this day, and I thank the powers that be in the dorm room assignment office that they matched Betty and me to be in the same apartment. We did something a little sly back then when we realized we were in the same apartment but different bedrooms and we changed the name placards so we’d be together. It really was fate that our match was made in “roommate heaven.”

By the way, I was on crutches because John & I had a motorcycle accident that tore up my knee pretty badly. Except for some nasty scars that I still sport on my right knee, I was lucky not to have been injured worse. 

As soon as I knew Darren was being airlifted to Atlantic City Medical Center after being pulled from the bay, Betty was the first person I called. Having just gotten home from working there, she was already on her way out the door to meet me by the time the words were completely out of my mouth. She knew the seriousness of the situation from my very first word. She and her husband arrived shortly after I did, and were with me during those crucial first hours.    

Betty and Rick were with us in Atlantic City and Philadelphia as often as possible. Betty also came to Atlanta and stayed with me while Darren was at the Shepherd Center. And of course her visits continued once we were back in Kinnelon. Even though it’s a 2 1/2 hour drive each way, distance has never separated us. She was and still is a source of strength, friendship and knowledge. As an Occupational Therapist, she knew what to look for, what milestones to strive for, and how to help us attempt to cope with all that was happening.

As people with very strong faith, Betty and Rick tried to hold us all up. They spread the word of Darren’s injury to family and friends, and I know even today, more than 6 years later, their friends still tell me they pray for Darren. And I know Betty and Rick do, too. For that I am very grateful.

Last April, Betty and I made plans to get both families together – everyone – no exceptions! It was so great to have us all together, sharing dinner and each other’s company. Our children have all grown into wonderful, mature young people, and it was a special treat to be all together for an evening.

As I ran my 5 miles this morning, I thought of Betty and the many celebrations we have shared. Our birthdays are only 2 weeks apart, our wedding anniversaries one month apart and our childrens’ birthdays close together. We have shared so many fun times together, and when times were tough, she has always been there for me. 

Our next joint goal will be the NJ Marathon. I’ll be running the full; Betty will be running the half.  We’ll have a lot to celebrate that day, and mostly it won’t be the running, but to celebrate love, friendship and accomplishments that have spanned several decades. I look forward to several more decades of friendship in the future.

My friend, Betty. I love you. 

Cynthia

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As I prepared for my run on the treadmill this morning, I was thinking about our Push to Walk client named Bob. I knew I would be running for him today, and started thinking about how we first met, how he told me his story, and how I’ve come to know him better.

Bob always has a smile on his face (except when he’s working hard and really concentrating!) and is sure to ask how I am, and how is Darren. Bob usually comes on Saturdays, so I don’t see him every week, but when I do see him, I always like to chat for a minute.

Even with a full time job, Bob is dedicated to working out and does a lot on his own in a make-shift gym he set up at home. It’s not a lot of room, but it is useful and accomplishes what he wants. With his schedule, it makes sense for him to be able to do exercises at home because he just can’t get to Push to Walk more than once a week. For short distances, Bob uses a walker, and has been working on improving his gait and balance.  

Bob and his wife have been very involved in Push to Walk activities over the years. They’ve attended Devils games with other clients, hosted a lovely summer barbeque, participated in our focus groups and have helped wrap presents at Border’s. They have also attended special events, contributed financially and will help out whenever needed. They are both truly a part of the Push to Walk family!

As I ran and ran this morning, watching the weather and traffic reports for the morning snowstorm, I thought of Bob and our other clients who were probably worried about getting to work in such nasty conditions. If we able-bodied people think that snow is such a hassle, think of manuevering in a wheelchair, navigating walkways that have not been cleared and trying to find an accessible parking space and grid that is totally cleared of snow. Sometimes it is just easier to stay at home and not worry about all those things, but that is not how our clients think. They have things to do, places to go, and people to see! They need to get out there!

So Bob was my inspiration this morning to “keep on keepin’ on.” I felt pretty good for my 5 miles this morning, and even did my sprints afterwards. Thanks, Bob, for keeping me going!  It’s gonna be a good day – snowy, wet and miserable – but a good day nonetheless. Hopefully the sun will come out soon!

Cynthia

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Saturday’s run was 8 miles, so I had lots of time to think. Since I don’t listen to music when I run, I only have the thoughts in my head to listen to!

Friday was my daughter, Arianne’s, 23rd birthday! Belated happy birthday wishes! I am so proud of the wonderful young woman she is, and all that she has accomplished. Best wishes for an OUTSTANDING year!

Saturday was Push to Walk’s 4th Anniversary of being open. Yay! I like to think of January 15th as Push to Walk’s birthday, instead of an anniversary. “Birthday” just seems so much more appropriate! It was born out of a desire to help Darren, then turned into so much more.

So my 8 mile run was mostly spent on the accomplishments of Push to Walk so far. That is, when I wasn’t yelling at drivers for driving too fast, coming too close to me, or both! Geez, the drivers are crazy! And with a limited amount of room on the shoulder of the road, I had to be VERY aware. In between, I did think about all that has happened with Push to Walk in the past four years.

Special recognition goes to Linda Wilson, my dear friend in California, who was the first person to mention the idea of having a place like Project Walk in New Jersey. If I remember correctly, I rolled my eyes and said “yeah, and how would I do that???” But with her persistence and Darren’s increased interest in that kind of intensive exercise program, we started the ball rolling. Thank you, Linda!

During one of Darren’s trips to Project Walk in January 2007, we gathered all the equipment and “stuff” we had accumulated, and moved into the newly renovated space in Bloomingdale, NJ. We were excited to have three clients and two trainers on the day we opened! Our main man, Eric Prol, started working with Darren in the spring of 2005 and has never looked back! How fortunate we were to find him. Lindsay Huisman, a former Project Walk trainer who had recenly relocated to NJ was also with us that first day.

I guess this blog entry could go on for pages if I tried to recall all the good things that have happened since we first opened. But since I have 3 1/2 more months of training for the NJ Marathon on May 1st, I’ll have plenty of time for thinking and writing! For now, I’ll just say how lucky I am to have met the most amazing people! Clients, family members, people all across the country who are connected to or care about the spinal cord injury community. Never would have I dreamed I’d be doing what I’m doing, but I do love my work.

More details to follow in the upcoming posts! I’d love to hear from you – please write to me! And check out our website: www.pushtowalknj.org.

Cynthia

P.S. J-E-T-S: Jets, Jets, Jets!!!

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We got about 6″ of snow overnight, so I knew running outside would not be possible. Not that I usually do anyway on weekday mornings, but sometimes it would be a nice change of pace. Oh well, not today!

My scheduled run was a total of 5 miles which I completed in 60 minutes. It was a combination of warming up, running, cooling down, and then faster runs/walks at the end. I must say, I felt pretty good, except for getting a really bad “stitch” in my right side after about 4 miles. Concentrating on my breathing and drinking more water helped to get rid of it.

Today I was thinking about our Push to Walk client, Brian. A long term client, I have seen Brian progress in so many ways! Since starting to come to Push to Walk, he graduated high school, started driving, enrolled at college and commuted his first year, to moving onto campus and living as independently as possible. I am so proud of him and all that he has accomplished!

His family is very, very supportive in all the ways you would hope for. I am fortunate to have spent lots of time talking with his Mom and getting to know her, his Dad and sister, too. I don’t think they’ve missed an event at Push to Walk yet, and I mean the WHOLE FAMILY! Even the extended family supports us by both participating and making financial contributions  – I’ve met a cousin and aunts and uncles, too. Friends also. It is a wonderful testament to Brian and helping him reach his goals. Thank you to all of you!

While Brian’s workouts at Push to Walk are the most important reasons he comes, I have seen such a difference in him in so many other ways. Starting to drive, starting college, moving to campus – all of these accomplishments are an indirect result of interacting with the trainers and the other clients. Sharing stories, learning from each other, observing what others are doing and socializing together are some of the ways that have helped Brian accomplish so many things. All of that, coupled with Brian’s own desire to be as independent as possible.

We’re glad you’re with us Brian, and glad that your entire family is part of the Push to Walk family. Keep on pushing!    

Until next time, Cynthia

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