At least once a week, Stephanie, who works out at the Jordan YMCA, says someone tells her how much she inspires them to work out harder. They take one look at her arms and see how strong she is. “My arms do a lot of work for me,” she explains, as she lifts her whole body using only her arms. Workouts sometimes take longer than they should, Stephanie admits. That’s because she is social. When Stephanie sees anyone she knows, she takes time to visit.
Before she even shows up at the gym, Stephanie bikes 10-12 miles on her stationary bicycle at home. But what’s remarkable about Stephanie’s fitness regimen is that it has not just made her life better. Without it, her doctors say she would most likely not be alive. Diagnosed in 1998 with a rare and deadly disease that clogs the central nervous system, Stephanie was told that in five years she would be unable to walk. In 10 years she would likely be dead.
After going through anger and denial, Stephanie recalls that a friend encouraged her not to view her disability as “bigger than it was.” That’s when she consulted a specialized brain fitness trainer. He taught her several exercises. But continuing the customized training was not affordable. Stephanie looked for gyms where she could do the exercises, and ended up at the Jordan YMCA.
There, the staff found scholarships for her so she could concentrate on getting strong. Though she now walks with the aid of a walker, Stephanie drives herself to the workouts in a car that has been specially equipped by Easter Seals Crossroads, another United Way agency. Stephanie was so satisfied with the experience, she encouraged at least 20 people to join the Y. That earned her “Y bucks” for free use of the facilities, which she anonymously returned to the director to donate to “some good, hard working family that needed the help.”
The payoffs to Stephanie’s regular exercise habit show how your gifts to United Way are making our whole community stronger. Watch Fox 59’s story to see why our investment to boost healthy behaviors is one that can inspire us all!