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Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Ascending Athlete #2: KK!

September 25th, 2009

kk-and-jimmy-climb-stratham-hill-5-09-023I’ve started a series called “Ascending Athletes”, which features people achieving great things in their lives and/or impacting the lives of others through athletics. I’m featuring athletes of all backgrounds, sports and skill levels. Everyone has a story to tell– whether a recreational or beginner just starting to work out or a hardcore athlete who is competing at an elite level. The goal of the Ascending Athlete series is to capture these stories and inspire others to seek similar challenges and rewards. If you would like to share your story or would like to nominate someone as an Ascending Athlete, please let me know. For more information about Ascend Sports Conditioning, visit our website.

KK!

Some people are just meant to inspire and make you laugh. Kristin K or KK (what she prefers to be called) is one of those people. I’ve known KK for a number of years, and most recently had the opportunity to work with her as one of my clients. I’ve helped her learn the freestyle and breaststrokes in swimming. She went from not knowing how to swim one length of the pool to being able to swim several hundred yards without a problem. Along the way, she’s proven to be a true inspiration. Despite her physical challenges (described below), KK has made being active an important part of her life and finds a way to overcome her challenges. You might say “perseverance” is her middle name. KK not only is an inspiration because of her own dedication to an active lifestyle, but also to her dedication to others, namely those who are fighting mental illness. KK works for the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester, in Manchester, NH and is a true leader in fighting the disease. She and a group of her colleagues do the “Psychling for Mental Health” ride as part of the Seacoast Century Ride to raise money and benefit The Manchester Mental Health Foundation Endowment.

KK will be doing riding the event for the 3rd time. You can learn more about KK’s efforts and donate to The Manchester Mental Health Foundation Endowment by visiting the endowment website.

KK was kind enough to answer some questions and share some of her thoughts on what makes her an Ascending Athlete:

Why are athletics important to you?

I’ve been involved in some form of organized sports or activities for as long as I can remember. I started in dancing when I was 3 or 4. My parents sent me to dancing school because I was a total klutz! I would trip over myself all the time, walk into walls, etc. After more than 10 years of competitive dance, I could dance like a champ, but was still as clumsy as ever. I also did gymnastics as a child and began team sports (field hockey, winter track and spring track) once I hit high school. At first I did these things purely for the fun and social/ team aspect of it. But as the years passed and I’ve had some pretty serious health issues, I have found that I participate in athletics more to prove to myself that I am resilient. There’s nothing I hate more than not being able to do something, or worse, someone telling me I can’t do something. That makes me want to do it more. There are some activities that I would like to do but it would be foolish for me to try due to the danger and possible adverse consequence of doing them. But there are many things I CAN do, and I love filling my time with these activities. I routinely bike, walk, weight train, kayak, and swim. One of my favorite quotes says that, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain”. That about says it all.

What is your major athletic goal(s)and/or events you are participating in for this year? Why have you chosen this goal(s)?

My major athletic goal this year is a 75 mile charity bike ride in late September. I was never much of a biker until a few years ago when I suffered a serious back injury that resulted in significant nerve damage/weakness in my lower extremities. This makes it hard for me to walk any sort of distance. I love being outside and was frustrated by my lack of stamina for walking. That’s when I thought of biking.

I got myself a very ergonomic bike and have participated in this charity ride called “Psychling for Mental Health” for the last 4 years. I began with a 25 mile ride in year one, then proceeded to do 50, 63 and this year a 75 mile ride. Because of my back and leg troubles I can’t sit for as long as it takes me to ride this distance, so I will do it in 2 days. It is important to me to participate in this ride because it benefits the Mental Health Center where I work, and the money we raise goes to help people who have no way of paying for needed mental health services.

Are you riding in the name or memory of someone you know who is fighting mental illness?

I’m not riding for anyone in particular. I’m riding in honor of the many people whose lives are impacted by mental illness. Their strength amazes me. I’m so fortunate to be able to work with people who keep fighting to achieve recovery despite many physical and psychological barriers. I draw a lot of strength from the clients we serve and others who overcome disabilities and lead very fulfilling and productive lives. If they can do it, then so can I!

What are some future goal(s) or event(s) you’d like to participate in?

I would eventually love to be able to do the full 100 mile ride (Seacoast Century) with the rest of my “Psychling for Mental Health” team all in one day. I would also like to become a more proficient swimmer and hiker. Frankly I’m just happy to be able to stay active and find things I enjoy doing that are good for my health.

Name one interesting fact or story that makes you unique and interesting

I’m not sure if it’s interesting, but I suppose it’s a bit unique that at the age of 17 I collapsed in the hallway at school (on the day of my junior prom!) from a cardiac event. Turns out that I have a congenital heart rhythm disorder called Long QT Syndrome. This is the type of disorder where you see perfectly healthy kids, often athletes, suddenly drop dead while playing sports. Luckily I made it through and now have an implanted pacemaker/ defibrillator. I do have some activity restrictions from this as well, but I have been able to make modifications and remain active to the extent that I am able.

Thanks to KK for all her dedication, hard work and inspirational story– she truly is an Ascending Athlete!

To learn more about Ascend Sports Conditioning, our mission, focus and dedication to helping people ascend to new levels through athletics, please visit www.ascendsportsconditioning.com

Ascending Athlete #1: Robin Saitz

July 14th, 2009

I’ve started a series called “Ascending Athletes”, which features people achieving great things in their lives and/or impacting the lives of others through athletics. I’m featuring athletes of all backgrounds, sports and skill levels. Everyone has a story to tell– whether a recreational or beginner just starting to work out or a hardcore athlete who is competing at an elite level. The goal of the Ascending Athlete series is to capture these stories and inspire others to seek similar challenges and rewards. If you would like to share your story or would like to nominate someone as an Ascending Athlete, please let me know.

Robin Saitz

Robin Saitz (left) getting ready for the PMC

Robin Saitz (left) getting ready for the PMC

One of the most profound and inspirational ways individuals can use athletics to drive themselves to new levels and at the same time impact the lives of others is through event fundraising. There are millions of people worldwide who suffer from debilitating diseases that limit or eliminate their ability to compete in athletics and impact the quality of their lives. Fortunately, there are millions more who seek to help them by raising money for research, raising awareness and most importantly, demonstrating that they care. One of those people is Robin Saitz. I met Robin a few months back through the social media circles in the Boston area. Robin is the type of person who is full of enthusiasm, which rubs off on the people around her. Her enthusiasm tends to get people to join in her in various efforts, one of which is the Pan Mass Challenge (PMC), a non-profit organization dedicated to raising money for cancer research and treatment at the Dana Farber Institute through an annual bike-a-thon across the state of Massachusetts. Since 1980, thousands of riders have raised nearly $240 million dollars by riding a 190 mile, two-day bike course across the state, as well as shorter distance options. This year’s event takes place August 1st and 2nd, 2009.

Robin will riding her 16th PMC, and serving as the captain of her company’s team, PTC. You can learn more about Robin’s efforts and help sponsor this great event at her website (www.pmc.org/profile/RS0022).

Robin was gracious enough to answer some questions and share some of her thoughts on what makes her an Ascending Athlete:
Why are athletics important to you?

Growing up, athletics were not important to me at all. It took going to college and gaining the “freshman 15” that made me take a look in the mirror and decide I needed to exercise. So I started walking….a lot. The summer after freshman year I walked everyday about 10 miles and I joined a gym (a dive, I might add, where I ultimately met my husband) and started lifting and doing the stairs and even running. I really got into great shape and felt great when I worked out. I have been working out ever since. Now I have bad day if DON’T work out, that’s how addicted I’ve become to the aerobic activity and the endorphins.

Why did you decide to ride the PMC?

As I said, I met my husband at the gym and I quickly figured out if I was going to keep up with him I’d have to pick up cycling. We knew people who had done the Pan Mass Challenge (PMC) and loved it, but honestly, we were a little intimidated by the fundraising, then the minimum was $900, and I was intimidated by the distance. But I got over both hurdles and have been riding the PMC for 16 years. The first year we were motivated more by cycling the distance than the actual cause. But once you ride the PMC, you realize it has nothing to do with cycling and it’s ALL about raising money for life-saving cancer research.

Are you riding in the name or memory of someone you know who has had cancer?

Over the years we have dedicated our ride and fundraising efforts to many people in our lives: Monica Weinstein, who lost her battle to breast cancer at the young age of 40 years old; Carl Ockerbloom and Cheun Lee, both colleagues from PTC who succumbed to cancer at young ages; Janet Baldassarre, who has successfully beat cancer not once, but twice; Flo Plotkin, my aunt who lost her battle to lung cancer; and this year we are dedicating our fundraising to the doctors, nurses, and technicians of the Dana Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Care Center, who responded quickly to a recent scare we had with our 13-year old son. Fortunately, it turned out not to be cancer, but this team of specialists assembled quickly, gathered information in a non-invasive way, investigated his case thoroughly, and, in a matter of 5 days (which felt like a long time to us) determined that he did not have cancer.


What are some future goal(s) or event(s) you’d like to participate in?

I am eager to see my children, now 11 and 13, ride in the PMC. To date they have organized an annual lemonade stand/bake sale to help us with our fundraising and they have participated in the PMC Kids ride in Newton. But I really look forward to the day, maybe in the next couple of years, where they can join me and my husband in this life-changing event.
Tell us about one interesting fact or story that makes you unique and interesting

While this is my 16th year riding the PMC, this is the 8th year I have captained a team from my company, PTC. This is especially rewarding to me because we are able to involve the entire PTC community in the team, from jersey design, to volunteers at the event, to fundraising. We have tremendous support from our executives, some who have joined us on the ride, others who have donated fun items to our auction (i.e. parking spaces for month, golf with the CEO), and have sponsored the team. Team PTC has raised over $640K for life-saving cancer research in memory of our colleagues and at the same time we have created a meaningful connection around an important cause for our employees.

Thanks to Robin for her inspiring story– she’s truly an Ascending Athlete!

To learn more about Ascend Sports Conditioning, our mission, focus and dedication to helping people ascend to new levels through athletics, please visit www.ascendsportsconditioning.com

Ascending Athletes – Tell Your Story!

July 13th, 2009

Are you (or do you know someone) doing great things through athletics in life? If so, I want to know about it! I’ll be profiling athletes on my blog (this blog!) periodically who are are achieving success in their lives and impacting the lives of others through athletics. I call these folks “Ascending Athletes”. You don’t have to be a client of Ascend Sports Conditioning to be an Ascending Athlete (although that would be welcome & encouraged), but simply someone– no matter at what level or what sport– who is active in athletics and be able to demonstrate how your activities are having a positive impact upon yourself or others. You could be a hardcore athlete who just summited Everest or completed a double Ironman or a beginner who just started jogging or going to the gym– doesn’t matter…if you’ve got a story, I want to know about it!

Why am I doing this? It’s really simple: I love the impact athletics has on a person’s life and want to tell those stories. These stories are inspirational & provide motivation for others. The reason why I coach is to help foster these positive, life-changing impacts & help others create these inspirational stories. Profiling these folks are a way to get these stories out & inspire others.

So, if you are interested or if you know others who are interested, please spread the word. The only thing you’ll need to do is answer a few questions– that’s it! If you’d like to be contacted or could recommend someone as an Ascending Athlete, please let me know by adding a comment to this blog, or contact me through a variety of ways in the socialsphere (email, Twitter, etc.).

I look forward to hearing from you!