Triple Amputee – Cameron Clapp

On Friday March 7th, the Hospital for Special Care hosted an amazing event where triple amputee, Cameron Clapp, was able to share his story of overcoming adversity and how he became a successful athlete and actor.

Cameron made some bad choices when he was 15 years old which led him to a tragic accident.  After hanging out with friends drinking alcohol and taking drugs, Cameron stumbled home.  He crossed the railroad tracks on his way home when he was struck by a train. A train that he did not hear or see due to being under the influence.

Three days later Cameron woke up in the hospital and realized that he lost both of his legs and his right arm.  In an instant his life hand changed.  Thankful to be alive, Cameron knew he must learn how to live again!

Now, 25 years old, Cameron is a motivational speaker and travels around sharing his story on how he learned to walk again, how he struggled being a triple amputee and how his life had drastically changed.  As Cameron spoke I embraced his words on how to overcome challenges that we face daily by “living your life to the fullest”, “identify the challenges and start the process to overcome”, “it’s not what happens to you that matters most, it’s what you do about it” and “to be yourself, you have to love yourself”.

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Stacia Cardillo – Wheeler

Reaching Out Into The Community

If persons with disabilities cannot come to the Y, then the Y will go to them!  That is what the Wheeler YMCA has been doing with their Adaptive Fitness & Sports program.

For the past month we have been teaching a “Ready To Be Fit” group exercise class at New Horizon’s in Unionville, CT.  New Horizon’s is a residential facility for persons with disabilities and with lack of transportation and financial limitations we have offered to bring the Y to them once a week.  We load up the car with weights or bands, a portable stereo system and any other equipment that we may need.  We show up with our arms full and smiles on our faces ready to entertain our group of anxious class participants.  Seeing the smiles on their faces as we walk through the door is priceless.  This class has made a big difference in their lives since most of them have done nothing to help improve their health and fitness levels.  We have already seen a change in our friends over the past 4 weeks.

YMCA2 018YMCA2 008At Gaylord Hospital, the Y has offered to help teach an indoor cycling class for their members.  This brand new class is held once a month and is successful thanks to our friends at Cycling Concepts Bike Shop in Rocky Hill.  They have helped us tremendously by lending us 4-5 trainers for these classes.  By helping Gaylord, we are able to help their members continue their training throughout the winter months until they can get outside and ride.

IMG_2035IMG_2033Being able to make a difference in someone’s life brings me nothing but pure joy in knowing that I can help them and for being part of this amazing program that the YMCA has to offer!

Stacia Cardillo – Wheeler

 

Adaptive Volleyball Anyone?

On Monday night the Wheeler YMCA’s gymnasium was packed with 18 volleyball players ready to play a very different game of volleyball, Adaptive Volleyball or otherwise known as Floor Volleyball.

Players of all ages and all abilities played three games, cheering each other on while trying to learn a new sport.  18 players that did not know one another quickly became friends while they laughed, supported one another and tried their best to play volleyball while sitting on the floor.  It was an amazing night watching our members and friends in the community gather together as one where everybody was treated equally!

This FREE program will run again on Monday February 24th at 7:30 p.m. and anybody is welcome to come out and play.  Are you interested?

A glimpse of how the game is played!

Wheeler YMCA Tri Club Kicks Off Their Indoor Season

On Sunday January 26th, 57 Wheeler YMCA Tri Club participants raced their way around the Y swimming a 1/4 mile, biking 9 miles and running 2 miles.  The first indoor triathlon out of 5 is just part of what the Wheeler YMCA Tri Club has to offer.  The club holds two swim clinics each week, a weekly strength training class and a monthly bike clinic to help train and prepare our members.

Our main goal is to make sure our members get the most out of this club and have fun. To accommodate all fitness levels, the indoor triathlons start off small and then each month we add another 100 yards to the swim, a mile is added to the bike and a 1/4 mile is added to the run so by May our friends are racing a full sprint triathlon (1/2 mile swim, 13 mile bike and a 5K run).

Our next indoor triathlon will be held on Sunday February 23rd.

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Wheeler’s Golden Tickets

“Golden Tickets” are awarded to our members that are spotted for doing something really special, helping out another member, achieving a goal or just because they are flat out AWESOME!  Numerous members have received golden tickets this month and I’d like to recognize one of our members, Angela Fasold, and explain why she received her golden ticket.Angela is a huge advocate of our YMCA and is considered one of our Member Ambassador’s.  She is always there to help guide new members, answers any questions that they may have, introduces them to other members with same interests and pushes all of our programs for the adults and children.

Angela can also be found decorating a driveway with sidewalk chalk, streamers and signs.  One of our members, Miriam Correa, completed her first century bike ride (100 miles).  Angela and her team of “do-gooders” placed congratulatory signs along Miriam’s front yard, wrote on her driveway and hung balloons!  Another member, Daren Casey, completed a very difficult Half IRONMAN (The SavageMan).  Angela was at Daren’s house with signs, balloons, streamers and her sidewalk chalk.  Our Nutritionist, Andrea Buono, completed another Ultramarathon (100 mile run) and where was Angela?  She was found at Andrea’s house placing signs and decorating her driveway and yard.  Jen Cambi lost her very precious pet, Cody, a couple of months ago and quickly adopted another dog named Cooper.  Angela wrote a letter to the Cambi family.  This letter was from their beloved dog Cody in Heaven to Cooper letting Cooper know that his new family will love him unconditionally and that he is one very lucky dog to have them.

These acts of kindness is what makes Angela so very special.  We cannot thank you enough Ang for everything that you do for the YMCA and our members!

Spreading the Word at ESPN

I was asked to speak at an ESPN Lunch n’ Learn through ESPN’s Enabled focus group for persons with disabilities.  A Lunch n’ Learn is where guest speakers are invited to speak to their employees and to share their story.  It was my turn today to share my story of my involvement with the Paratriathlon program and how it has changed my life.

The panel of speakers consisted of Shane Mosko (paratriathlete), Tom Branchaud (paratriathlete), Susan Grigely (Wheeler Y Tri Club member and volunteer) along with myself.  I had opened up the lecture with a 6 minute slideshow of photos of the 2012 and 2013 Madison Sprint Triathlon along with photos from this years Hartford Marathon.  Images speak a thousand words and the slideshow had a great impact on the crowd.  From there I told my story.  A story that have told to so many others several times and a story that I do not get bored of sharing.  We each had a chance to talk about the impact this program has had on our lives, what we had learned as volunteers and as athletes, what more we want to do to help others and spreading the word that just because you have a disability it doesn’t mean you “CAN’T” because you CAN!

“You must do the things you think you cannot do!” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Wheeler Hosts Paralympics Day

On Sunday October 6th we hosted our first annual Paralympics Day to help kick off our new Adaptive Fitness and Sports program.  Northeast Passage from New Hampshire and Gaylord Hospital brought in racing chairs and hand-cycles for our members and guests to demo.  A mean game of wheelchair rugby was played thanks to the Gaylord Jammers Quad Wheelchair Rugby team, and we showcased our new program ADAPTIVE VOLLEYBALL which will run on Monday nights starting on 10/28.

Not only did we just play but we also had some amazing representation from our friends at Achilles, Fidelco, Independence Unlimited and the NEAT Center at Oak Hill that had tables of brochures, equipment and even a gorgeous guide dog!

Our Adaptive Fitness and Sports program is up and running and will help individuals with disabilities reach their fullest potential through support, fellowship, health and wellness.

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Wheeler’s IRON-WOMEN Cross the Finish Line

I had posted a few months ago about this journey that 7 women from the Wheeler YMCA Tri Club were on.  A journey that would take them to a place they have never been before.  A journey that would test their strength not only physically but mentally.  On Sunday August 18, 2013 these 7 women completed their journey as they crossed the finish line at the Timberman Half IRONMAN race in New Hampshire.

The 70.3 mile journey which consisted of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and a 13.1 mile run was no easy task and the 8 months of hard core training pushed these ladies above and beyond their limits.  They proved to themselves that anything can happen and that their bodies are stronger then what they think.

I have been part of this journey and I cannot even explain the emotions that I went through during the 8 months of training and most importantly on race day.  I have been truly blessed by being able to help guide those that needed some assistance.  Lending an ear when it was time to vent.  Offering my shoulder to cry on.  Motivation when someone felt defeated and most importantly being a friend that was honest when honesty was needed!

I am beyond proud of Angela Fasold, Mary Norbut, Dorothy Weber, Holly Peterson, Allison Post, Jordan Green and Jen Cambi for racing their hearts out and leaving it all on the course.  They have inspired their children, their spouses, their friends and so many others that they are already discussing “What Half IRONMAN are we doing next year?”

Congratulations to Wheeler’s IRON-WOMEN!

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Kids Can TRI Too!

I had the pleasure of working with 30 happy, energetic, strong, determined, amazing children this summer for our Kids Tri Series. The smiles on their faces after they finished each race was priceless and the best part was getting all the hugs, thank you’s and super excited stories from each athlete as they kept chanting, “I cannot wait until next summer!”.

We had partnered up with the Southington YMCA and used Camp Slopers’ grounds to hold these events this summer and I am thankful for their involvement with this program. The kids enjoyed swimming in the lake, biking around the lake on a dirt path and running around all the sports fields. But the best part was the watermelon and popsicles after each race!

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Tri Club Teamwork

Racing season is among us and so many of the Wheeler YMCA Tri Club members have a goal this summer whether it is to finish their first outdoor Sprint Triathlon, Olympic Triathlon, Half IRONMAN, IRONMAN, increase their speed on the bike or to run faster.

A group of 8 women set a goal this summer and that is to complete their very first Half IRONMAN (Timberman 70.3) in New Hampshire on August 18th. Their road to Timberman has been tough, interesting, stressful, relaxing, unprepared, bumpy, frustrating, scary, mind-blowing, exciting, exhilarating and worth everything they have put themselves through thus far.

The Rev3 Olympic Triathlon on June 2nd was their first big test. A grueling course with serious elevation, these women finished strong, finished with a smile, finished proud and finished realizing they have some work to do.

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Test #2 was the Litchfield Hills Olympic Triathlon on Sunday July 14th. Some showed up unprepared and under-trained while others felt like it was going to be a walk in the park. The Wheeler YMCA Tri Club was well represented on Sunday with 20 racers; 14 individual and 6 participating on a two relay teams. But those 8 ladies were there preparing themselves for what has yet to come. Their goal of crossing the finish line at the Timberman Half IM.

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Facebook was lit up like a Christmas tree Sunday afternoon with photos from the race, congratulatory comments, words of wisdom and encouragement, thank you’s and a re-cap of one racers day that I would like to share with you.

“I know most of you are expecting my “tidbits”…..but I wanted to share some thoughts of mine….when I started doing triathlons I didn’t know exactly what I was diving into..When I walked into the Litchfield Hills Olympic I was greeted by many friends…usually I have my partner in crime with me all the way side by side…but this time I was going at it alone…I had to wrestle with my thoughts…there were moments I just wanted to stop…why bother with the run anyway…but a friend was there…she told me go, you go, your run is your best, do it…I walked out being asked are you still running?..yeah I am…RUNNER COMING THROUGH they screamed…yet I ate a banana I walked…finally I ran…could only hear the squish of the water that’s been in my shoes for the past 3+ hours…and my thoughts…I head up to the road and there’s this bunch of crazy awesome people…my friends cheering…then again, I was alone…squish, squash, squish…I sang…had a full on conversation with an imaginary person…two friends were still behind me…I stopped at a water station no one there, but 3 glasses of Gatorade…I drank one picked and put a flower on the table in between the two left for my friends…and moved on…squish, squash, squish…maybe I’ll get trench foot disease…my toes felt like they were on fire…suddenly I see a biker…it’s a tri club member…and then another…they rode back out to help the last 3 of us through…I’m rounding the finish…EVERYONE left except for my tri friends…4+ hours they stayed just to see us through…the cheers…people commented how unusually calm I was…I think this time my friends…the experience just truly humbled me.”

And that is what it is all about!