Push To Walk Blog

Push To Walk: 15 Years Strong

Push To Walk: 15 Years Strong

Seventeen years ago, Darren, a college-bound high school hockey player and ski racer, dove off a boat into shallow water at the New Jersey shore. That dive resulted in a C5 spinal cord injury and Darren’s subsequent paralysis. It also inspired Darren and his mother, Cynthia Templeton, to establish a dedicated exercise facility for the paralysis community.


This month, they are celebrating the achievement of that vision -- the 15th anniversary of Push to Walk, a specially equipped nonprofit gym in Oakland that offers individualized workouts and resources to people with spinal cord injuries and other forms of paralysis.
A motivating environment

"Fifteen years ago, I never imagined the widespread need for places like Push to Walk,” emphasized Cynthia during a recent discussion about the history of the nonprofit.

"Since then, I have discovered that there are many people like Darren who experienced a traumatic injury and were in search of supportive environments where they could build their strength and work towards their personal goals -- whether it’s standing up, taking that first step, handling household tasks, or developing the confidence to become as independent as possible."

Expanding paralysis community

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Statistical Center there are about 18,000 new spinal cord injuries a year and the Center for Disease Control reports that another 1.5 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year. As a result of these injuries and the increasing number of people with other diseases that result in mobility impairments, the paralysis community in America is expanding.

"We need to recognize that these are people who could be your neighbors, your child’s classmate, or someone’s mom, dad or grandparent. They deserve our support,” Cynthia pointed out, adding, “At Push to Walk, we are dedicated to helping these individuals improve the quality of their lives.”
Personalized, compassionate training

Since opening its doors on January 15, 2007, PTW has provided personal training to hundreds of individuals who have SCIs, TBIs or paralysis as a result of a traumatic incident, stroke, or chronic conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis and Cerebral Palsy.

I’ve met the PTW trainers and seen them in action and can tell you that they have extraordinary skill and heart. So, too, does the PTW leadership. Cynthia has personally counseled hundreds of family members when someone they loved became paralyzed, and Executive Director Vivian Kiggins continues to strengthen PTW services by seeking the funding to ensure that clients have access to the equipment and resources they need to reach their goals.

Building communities, fostering wellness

Anniversaries are not simply about looking back, but about looking forward. So, what’s ahead for PTW in 2022? The nonprofit, under Vivian’s direction, will strive to --
Promote fitness and wellness within the paralysis and SCI communities;
Share stories and achievements of paralyzed and mobility-challenged individuals;
Raise funds to help subsidize the cost of training at PTW for financially challenged individuals;
Collaborate with other organizations to better serve SCI and TBI communities and others who are mobility impaired.

"If there is anything I have learned over the past 15 years, it is that you can’t be a one-person team," Cynthia emphasized to me, adding “Both Darren and I have benefitted enormously from the support and counsel of others who sustained SCIs, their families and the medical professionals who worked with them, particularly the leaders and staff at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, Helen Hayes Hospital in Haverstraw and the Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains. We plan to continue our close working relationship with these organizations during the anniversary year."

Fifteen years since its founding, Push to Walk continues to push ahead its outreach and service to the paralysis community. It is remarkably unwavering in its commitment. That in itself is worth celebrating.

Contributed by Helene Kennedy, former PTW Board Member and Chair of its Marketing and Communications Committee

Click For Blog Post

Push to Walk Marks 15 Years of Service to Paralysis Community

Push to Walk Marks 15 Years of Service to Paralysis Community

(Oakland, NJ January 6, 2022) - On Saturday, January 15, Push to Walk, a 7,400 sq. ft. exercise facility in Oakland, New Jersey designed for individuals with spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, stroke, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and other forms of paralysis, will kick off its 15th anniversary celebration with a week of special activities. The nonprofit facility was founded by Cynthia Templeton and her son Darren in 2007 after Darren sustained a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed.

"Fifteen years ago, there were virtually no options in northern New Jersey for individuals like Darren to work out. Physicians urged him to lead a healthy life and stay fit, but once he had completed his physical therapy, we were left with figuring out the best way to do this. Darren, a high school athlete at the time, wanted to work out in a gym with other people like himself – people who faced similar challenges and would motivate one another,” explains Templeton. “We had seen models of such gyms in other states and our dream was to open a facility in New Jersey."

"We are excited that our dream not only became a reality but has resulted in the creation of a thriving facility serving an expanding group of individuals whose unique training needs are often overlooked," adds Templeton. “We are steadfast in our commitment to help these individuals optimize their current quality of life and prepare for future medical advancements.”

PTW offers training and camaraderie

Fifteen years ago on opening day, a handful of people used the new gym. Today, over 70 people train at the gym each month, taking advantage of the specialized equipment and benefitting from the expertise of certified trainers and experienced aides. And Push to Walk has become more than a gym for its clients– it is a resource center for paralyzed individuals and their families, a place to share stories of successes and setbacks, a place to set and achieve new goals, and a place to acquire information on everything from managing daily household tasks to participating in adaptive sports.

One of the most important messages Ms. Templeton wants to communicate throughout the year to the paralysis and spinal cord injury communities is “You are not alone.”

Clients pay an hourly fee for training sessions. Scholarships are available for those with demonstrated financial need.

PTW open houses

During the anniversary year, PTW has scheduled monthly open houses. The next open houses are January 18, February 17, and March 15. Individuals can register to attend an open house or schedule an individual tour by calling the PTW offices at 201-644-7567. The complete schedule for open houses is available on the PTW website (www.pushtowalk.org)

In addition, PTW will be holding client and family events, including a "family fun day” in August for PTW current and past clients, staff members, board members, and donors. An Anniversary Gala will be held September 29 at the Indian Trail Club in Franklin Lakes to recognize the many people who have contributed to making PTW a thriving community.

Redefining Possibilities for the Spinal Cord Injury and Paralysis Community. Located in Bergen County, NJ. Specializing in neuro-activity based exercise for individuals with Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Traumatic Brain Injury, Stroke, Paralysis and More.

Click For Post

Give Yourself the Gift of Self-Care

With the holidays coming up and the COVID-19 numbers on the rise, we could all use a breather. So, courtesy of Olga Phoenix here’s 88 ways to do just that. The wheel is separated into 6 categories: physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, personal, and professional. We can all benefit greatly by balancing each of these 6 categories in our everyday life, especially in times like this.

As a place to start, here’s a short list of our favorites here at Push to Walk:

  • Eat Healthy and Exercise (Physical)
  • Think About Your Positive Qualities (Psychological)
  • Let Yourself Cry and Laugh (Emotional)
  • Spend Time in Nature (Spiritual)
  • Spend Time with Family and Friends (Personal)
  • Leave Work at Work (Professional)

We hope this helped you get through these tough times; and no matter where you are in your mental health journey, you have our support!

Click For Blog Post

#GiveBack by Giving to Push to Walk

This year has been such a whirlwind, and the pandemic drastically changed everyone's lives. Push to Walk was forced to shut down for a few months which caused clients to miss out on workout sessions and miss out on the comradery Push to Walk provides. Nevertheless, the pandemic has also caused us to slow down and realize what is important to us. This Thanksgiving, many of us will be thankful for our friends, family, health, and happiness. For clients, staff, and their families, Push to Walk provides the health, happiness, and even friends mentioned at Thanksgiving dinner.

This year, we encourage you to find the best deals possible on Black Friday & Cyber Monday, so you'll have something to give back on Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday is a movement that began in 2012 to celebrate global giving, collaborating, and acts of generosity. For one day a year, people have the power to transform communities and change lives by giving to non-profits and charities across the globe. We hope this one day will also inspire you to get more involved with facilities such as Push to Walk. Last year in the United States alone, those who came together raised $1.97 BILLION!

Donate to Push to Walk for Giving Tuesday and your contribution will allow us to provide more extensive training for our already dynamite staff, even more scholarships, and specialized equipment for our amazing clients.

To donate or read more, click here.

Also, please spread awareness of Giving Tuesday with friends & family!

Click For Blog Post

AVM Awareness Month

Happy October! All spooks aside, we at Push to Walk (PTW) would like to do our part to bring awareness to AVM. After all, it is an AVM Awareness Month as well.

An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a rare disease (affecting 18 out of every 100,000 people in the US) characterized by tangled blood vessels that connect arteries and veins. These tangles disrupt normal blood flow and oxygen circulation and can develop anywhere in the body but are most commonly found afflicting a person’s brain or spine.

Some common symptoms of brain AVMs (according to healthline.com) include:
● Bleeding in the skull, most commonly a subarachnoid hemorrhage
● Seizures
● Headaches
● Focal neurological deficits, such as weakness, numbness, or tingling to one part or side of the body
● Confusion

If AVMs are occurring in limbs or the spinal cord (according to healthline.com) symptoms may include:
● Muscle weakness
● An inability to move a limb
● A lack of coordination

Children and teenagers with an AVM may struggle with learning or have behavioral issues. Some children born with AVM will have blue-tinted skin, which tends to darken to a deep red or purple as they age if untreated.

The clear causes of AVMs are unknown, but some doctors theorize they occur in the womb or shortly after birth and appear later as the child ages. There is little evidence to suggest that genetics play a role in the appearances of AVMs, but some other genetic syndromes can put individuals at a higher risk of developing AVMs. These syndromes include but are not limited to hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia and Osler-Weber-Rendu syndrome.

If you want to learn more about AVM, check out the Facebook page for The Aneurysm and AVM Foundation (TAAF).

For more information or questions please contact Amanda at amudrick@pushtowalknj.org.

Click For Blog Post

1 2 3 4 5 18