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12 Years???? Happy 12th Anniversary to Push to Walk!

Twelve years ago, on January 15, 2007, Push to Walk opened its doors for the first time. I can remember the day like it was yesterday: our small space in Bloomingdale, three clients (2 of whom I hadn't even met!), two trainers and much anticipation and anxiousness. How would this go? Would anyone come? Would we survive? The question "what am I doing???" would cross my mind for quite a while after opening.

Survive we did, for that first year, and I remember my Mom bringing in a homemade cake for our first anniversary. We were learning every day, figuring things out as we went, and started to realize there was definitely a need for our services. As our tiny gym got more crowded with new equipment, more clients, their wheelchairs and caregivers/transportation providers, I knew Push to Walk needed more space.

After a considerable search we found space in Riverdale. It wasn't ideal - more like an office space we made work as a gym - but it was there we found our footing and expanded our gym space to the maximum amount possible. After eight and half years, we knew the things we wanted, and that our clients needed, and it was time to move again.

In Oakland, we found a space that is a true gym. A place with lots of open space for walking, enough equipment (is there ever enough equipment?!), offices and a conference room. But now Push to Walk is so much more than a physical space. It is about people coming together who share common stories and common goals. It is a place to work hard and be challenged, yes. It is also a place to learn from others: clients learning from clients, family members sharing information and helping each other. A place where social interactions and camaraderie are fostered and grow.

In California I witnessed this type of setting when Darren and I spent time at a specialized gym there multiple times. I am so proud that Push to Walk has not only reached that level, but exceeded it in so many ways. This is attributed to the entire staff and the team of volunteers who work behind the scenes to make sure we thrive and not merely survive. It is due to our clients and their family members who put their trust in us. It is the generosity of our donors that enable us to help our clients reach their goals.

Push to Walk's success is the combination of a WHOLE LOT of people who CARED and continue to care, from a year before opening to today. So while this month of January marks our anniversary on the calendar, there is much to celebrate each and every day as our clients with paralysis work hard, challenge themselves and reach for the stars. How proud I am to be on this journey with everyone who is a part of Push to Walk!

Cynthia Templeton, Push to Walk Founder & Community Partnerships Coordinator

The 3 Benefits of Volunteering

As a nonprofit organization we understand how valuable volunteers are. At our nonprofit, Push to Walk, volunteers are the heart and soul of what we can accomplish daily. They help directly with our clients who are paralyzed, they assist with administrative tasks like outreach, and they even help us with fundraising during our annual events. Volunteering helps every party involved as it gives much needed support to nonprofits while also teaching you many important tools that can greatly impact your life. In an effort to break down that impact we’ve listed our top 3 benefits of volunteering. If you decide that volunteering at Push to Walk is something you want to try, send us an email at slajam@pushtowalknj.org to see how you can get involved with the local paralysis community.

1. Decreases Your Stress

Looking for new ways to decrease the stress in your life? Try volunteering! We know that may sound a little odd, but volunteering has been proven to reduce stress as noted by the Mayo Clinic’s “6 Health Benefits of Volunteering” article. Through interacting with new people and donating your time to help others you can develop a new sense of appreciation for yourself. Learning to appreciate all you’re doing for the community not only decreases your stress, but it teaches you healthy ways to manage your time and biggest priorities. So the next time you’re looking for ways to decrease stress try volunteering in New Jersey and know that you’re not just helping those in need - you’re helping yourself as well.

2. Increases Your Confidence

Confidence helps with so much in your everyday life. It’s what gives you an extra push to speak up for yourself or to make bolder decisions with your future. However, confidence is a hard skill to develop because it’s really rooted in kindness. Having the courage to be kind and help others through volunteering is a great way to increase your confidence at work, with your family, and with your friends. When you volunteer, you learn to be confident for those who can’t be. You exercise your speaking and presenting skills which tend to be with new people. The more practice you get at communicating with others, the more confident you’ll be no matter where you are. So if you want to have the confidence to ask your boss for that promotion you deserve, try volunteering locally. You’ll be sure to find great volunteer opportunities near you, and in return you’ll find new ways to gain a little extra confidence.

3. Expands Your Connections

Networking is a great skill to have because it can further in your career, business connections, and social life. However, networking is pointless if you don’t have any connections to talk with. Volunteering not only teaches you the confidence you’ll need to network, but it opens new doors that can help you make great connections. From local community leaders to successful board members, volunteering connects you with a side of your community that you might not otherwise have a chance to meet. Every time you volunteer locally you expand your connections in New Jersey by meeting new, interesting leaders that now know you care about your community. So try volunteering to open your heart and also open new doors - you never know who you’ll meet.

While the benefits of volunteering are always evolving, there is one thing about it that will remain true: it changes lives. Your impact in New Jersey is needed at so many great nonprofit organizations. Whether you have enough time to volunteer once a month or once a week, it will always be appreciated. If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities near you, then try emailing us here at Push to Walk. We’ll be happy to find a position that suits your interests and we’re looking forward to hearing from you!

Gene’s Story-More Than A Client

As we approach the end of our 11th year of service and celebrate our second year in our Oakland home, we would like to sincerely thank you for your support. It is with your help that we are able to continue to provide workouts and resources to the paralysis community and were able to welcome 25 new clients into our program throughout 2018!

Our clients have amazing stories to share. We would like to tell you about Gene, who is paralyzed at the T10-T12 level due to a mass pressing on his spinal cord.

In 1995, Gene was running his own IT company with over 100 employees and caring for a family when he saw a doctor for pain in his back. Encouraged by family, he underwent an MRI which showed that Gene had a non-cancerous tumor pressing against his spinal cord. Doctors performed a laminectomy to remove portions of the growth, and after being “blasted with steroids,” Gene says he was up and running again.

Three years later, he began to lose his balance. The doctors removed more of the mass around Gene’s spinal cord, which brought relief – but only temporarily. Gene went on to have two more major operations, each time removing parts of the mass, and each time relieving his symptoms for a short while. After the third surgery, his doctors were reluctant to have another go. Gene discovered Push to Walk during his traditional rehabilitation and has been attending workouts since October 2013.

Gene is recently retired but has found many ways to fill his free time. He enjoys attending workouts at Push to Walk a couple of times a week, serving on Push to Walk’s Board, spending time with family and friends, and remaining involved with other non-profits who also work with those living with disabilities.

Gene enjoys the camaraderie of the clients at Push to Walk and the relationships he’s developed with the staff. A place where he feels he can “get a real workout” that is tailor-made for his condition, and with full attention on himself rather than having to split the trainer’s attention with other clients. He focuses on sit-ups on the Total Gym, cardio on the SciFit, walking, and strength exercises. This past year Gene has shared his newest improvement, which is the ability to now move his right foot. Something he was unable to do not too long ago. “Every area of the country needs this. What many people don’t understand is that, for people with mobility issues, maintaining our current level of fitness is itself a form of progress,” believes Gene.

Your gift can help Gene and so many others living with paralysis continue their journey toward greater strength, mobility, and independence. Our clients are so grateful to be able to exercise regularly which leads to better health and overall improvement in their quality of life but need your help to do so.

Help us reach our goal of raising $50,000 this year! Help us create success stories for all of our clients! Help those with paralysis live healthy and active lives!

A Little Push Goes A Long Way! Donate Today!

A very special thank you to all those who have already made a donation!
Happy Holidays!

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