Two universal motivators first prompted John Pecore to lose weight: fitness and finance. When the cost of his health insurance "went through the roof," he said it was like paying a mortgage every month. He and his wife, Johnna, looked elsewhere, and found Medi-Share. In order to meet the guidelines for their new insurance, John agreed to work with a health coach. At age 51, he weighed 280 pounds. He had to lose 50 pounds to qualify.
John was an athlete in high school and college. He had played football and used to be a runner, so he knew the rigors and discipline of training, and the rewards of being in shape. He had continued with an energetic lifestyle until injuries slowed him down, and his weight went up. He was ready to get active again. This time around, however, he says that being 51 and 280 pounds, running was out of the question. So John started walking.
John adapted to his new plan religiously, and he walked with his shih tzu, Pooka, everyday. After three weeks, John had built up enough strength to add to his workout regimen. Some people like to add 5- or 10- pound weights to their routine, but John isn't like some people. When he sets out to do something, he has to go 110%. He channeled his military training, and started carrying a 60lb rucksack on his daily walks. Both he and Pooka were losing weight and improving their health.
But after three months and a 20-pound reduction, John's arch in his foot made it prohibitive for him to continue his routine. As John says, "I knew I was at the end of the road here and needed to make a change," Whether he intended the pun or not, John made a change that was to agree with him.
He took out his 10-year old Schwinn bicycle, and started riding. At first, he struggled to make it 5 miles. But being John, he persevered. He met up with an old friend. John Funk, 72, was a National Cycling Champion and taught John about correct positioning on the bike and how to ride with cadence; a steady, even, pedaling style.
In a couple of months John had worked his way up to an 80-mile round trip ride on his old Schwinn. "My Schwinn started developing serious problems because I was going faster than it was designed to. I destroyed my hub a couple of times and also destroyed my rear rim." It clearly was time for a new bike, and John invested in a Bianchi Cross Country road bike.
Nine months after John slogged those first 5 miles on his rusty old bike, he crossed the finish line of his first bike rally, the Susan G. Komen Century. "I started at 8 am, and crossed the finish line at 5 pm. What a long ride. Today I can do that in half the time."
Not only is John extending his healthy lifestyle to fundraising endeavors, he has created and maintains a breakfast bicycle group that meets every Saturday for riding and fellowship. Before he meets his ever-growing group, John sets out early for a faster and longer ride, ultimately clocking 50 miles or more.
He also rides every other day during the week; about 30 miles each day. Sometimes the cold weather can be a detriment, and, " it can be very difficult to get on the bike when you missed a few days. I have to focus and remember what is was like at 280 pounds. Now being 53, and 230 lbs, going on 54, my bones creak, but the low impact riding has helped me feel younger, physically stronger, (of) sharper mind and spiritual growth, and I can manage difficulties in all areas better."
Those initial motivators of health and saving money have given John a quality of life far beyond his first goals. His bicycling awards him with adventures, new friends and unforeseen challenges that match his spirited energy. His forthright determination is an inspiration to others who want to ride, overcome injury, get fit, or just make friends.
John is currently planning a bicycling, fishing and camping trip over Memorial weekend. He's exuberant as he describes the camping equipment and fishing pole (collapsible) for the trip that he found online, and the prospect of having fresh bass cooked over the campfire for dinner.
John has some wise suggestions for those considering bicycling for fitness, fun, and the multitude of other benefits:
- Always wear a helmet
- Always follow rules of the road
- Always look at the driver to see where they are looking!
- To help prevent tire punctures, John insists on Kevlar tires, and he uses gatorskin liners
- Have an experienced rider or professional help you get the right bike for your needs. The right fit is imperative for comfort and to avoid injury
- Stretch before and after you ride
- Don't push yourself beyond your limits, yet know you are getting stronger every day
John still starts out his mornings walking Pooka; it helps them both loosen up, and keeps Pooka in shape too!John is a Power Quality Engineer and runs his own business "Stormin Protection Inc." He also imports bike jerseys for fellow cyclists at a great discount. To learn more go to: http://www.storminprotection.com
Let us know of your adventures in staying fit, young and healthy! Write to us at: forevercincuenta.com
To your health, Wendy y Rafi.
This is a story of hope and strength, of a positive attitude trumping physical limitations and economic downturn. It shows how Vinnie Scuderi accepts his disability and works around challenges to live a productive and meaningful life.
If you ask Vinnie these days what his favorite activity is, he'll tell you, with a big smile on his face, "it's swimming at the North Shore Pool." He continues: "How can you not love it? The weather is great, the views are wonderful, people are friendly and you get a breath of fresh air."
At 64, Vinnie speaks proudly of his business as a skilled artisan builder. He has been a professional craftsman for 32 years. He owns and manages "Architectural Specialties, Inc" which specializes in designing and building unique architectural structures, furniture, and stained glass creations for discerning clients of both residential and commercial properties. Until the recession took its tole, Vinnie was constantly engaged in projects, working out of his custom-built shop. Today, he wonders if he'll ever return to the work that he loves.
Vinnie was born with Inherited Spastic Paraplegia, passed down from his father and grandfather. It is a degenerative genetic disorder characterized by progressive stiffness and weakness in the legs. It began with Vinnie when he was in his late 40's. Now he has limited functionality of his legs, getting around with a specially designed tricycle, and crutches. He can also drive a stick-shift car, and uses an electric scooter. "This slowed me down, but it didn't stop me. I have to concentrate more when doing things that I once took for granted and did automatically, like dressing."
His disability has never been a detriment to his work. His talent and versatility are highly regarded, and he was in constant demand for his unconventional and handsome creations. "People hired me because they wanted something special, so I felt challenged to come up with something cool...I designed projects that I would like.
I complete 75% of the work in my shop, the remaining 25% is on-site installation."
Fresh out of Northern Illinois University with a degree in industrial arts, Vinnie at first intended to teach. He applied to numerous schools in his area. And in the meantime, "people started asking me to build things for them: doors, windows, furniture, cabinets and metalwork, both utilitarian and ornamental. I learned how to build stained glass windows. It's easy for me to switch materials. I am a very good designer and draftsman." Below are some samples of his work:
Despite his mobility challenges, Vinnie keeps a positive attitude. He remembers the severe limitations his father endured, and feels fortunate for his car and tricycle, his electric scooter and beautiful workshop that he built in the home he shares with Patricia, his wife of 34 years.
And most of all, Vinnie is grateful for the pool. He started swimming years ago when he took his children for swim lessons. He was busier then, and could only come on weekends. As his work waned Vinnie had more time for the physical therapy that the water provides.Now you can find Vinnie at the pool almost daily (except when it's under 70 degrees F.!) "Being in the pool is a big relief, getting the weight off me. I'm able to walk without using crutches. Floating is very comfortable. Hanging off the sides of the pool and stretching without my feet touching the bottom feels very good." His words convey a sense of joyful freedom.
Vinnie is a wonderful influence to all who know him. He wonders why others with similar conditions don't take advantage of swimming and the mental and physical stress relief it provides. He enjoys the social interaction with everyone he meets, and values the opportunity to be outside in an activity that brings him unrestricted movement and independence. His appreciation is infectious. Ask Vinnie how the water is on any given day, and his answer will be, "perfect."
He hasn't given up the hope of getting back to the trade that means so much to him. "When I had work I felt very accomplished. People called me because I have a reputation, and they wanted something special built. My projects were custom built, usually one-of-a-kind, special circumstances, and sometimes no one else was interested in doing the work because it was too complicated." He even speaks of partnering with his son and daughter, who are now in their twenties. They learned the skills from Vinnie as they worked with him "in the shop" on some projects.
As the economy caused others to limit their discretionary spending, Vinnie has had time for improvements to his own house. "There was no way I was going to put this fancy work in other people's houses and not my own!" Vinnie doesn't let his disability interfere with any aspect of his work, his recreational activities, home improvements or chores.
"My drawings sell me and my work, and being disabled doesn't discourage people from hiring me. What I can't do, I'm very good at directing people to do. I have a very strong belief in personal and professional creativity and problem solving."
Vinnie's story is an inspiration to others, disabled or not. Follow your dreams, live your life fully, work around any limitations and always keep alive the hope of a new opportunity. For architectural specialties work contact Vinnie at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We have more inspiring stories in development. If you want to share a story of someone exceptional you know send us an email: email@example.com
We welcome your feedback. Leave us a comment. WW/RE
At 70, retired and searching for a new purpose in his life, Norm Coleman first discovered baseball legend Ty Cobb. The more he learned about "the best player in the history of the game", the more he saw a story that had to be told. Now, almost 7 years and
over 150 performances later, Norm, and Ty, are going stronger than ever, with shows in 2013 slated to entertain baseball and history fans across the country.
We met up with Norm one recent, beautiful January day in his hometown of Half Moon Bay, CA. He looks younger and more spry than when I first knew him 6 years ago, during a community theater production of "Inherit the Wind". Norm attributes his youthful vitality to his passion and purpose of his one-man show. He says the creation of it was "completely accidental, given the fact I had never acted before, except 'Inherit the Wind'."
It all started when Norm went to the library to check out a book about baseball great Jackie Robinson. On the shelf was also a book about Detroit Tigers champion Ty Cobb.
Out of natural curiosity, Norm read the Ty Cobb biography. He was hooked. "As I read a second book, then a third, I got the idea this could make a one-man show. I found him to be fascinating. He had a bad reputation, and my idea from the very beginning was to show the other side of the man. I'd never acted, I'd never written anything. It was a challenge, and I believed I was up for the challenge, I felt confident from the start I could do it. I clearly saw myself performing onstage, somewhere, and that's what happened. The rest is history."
It's hard to believe that Norm didn't have acting experience when I first met him in "Inherit the Wind". He only had a few lines in that show, but when I heard his voice ring through the theater, I thought, "this man is meant for the stage."
His Ty Cobb project was already underway during that time. Norm would regale me with facts about Cobb, still today one of the greatest baseball players of all time. I was inspired by both men; the controversial and enormously successful baseball player, and the retired, award-winning photographer clearly reinventing himself as a writer, visionary and performer.
Norm had a prescient moment early on his new career path, when, meeting a neighbor, she asked what he did. He replied, "I'm an actor." This, with nine lines in a community play under his belt, and a rough draft of a one man play!
This neighbor turned out to be Lynn April Statten, a retired Broadway actress, who became Norm's mentor, director, and sometime nemesis as he worked and reworked his project to performance standards. "I was improving with her help. I learned by trial and error what works and doesn't work."
Norm practiced his show at local open-mike nights and rotary clubs, where he gave 20-minute performances "until it sank in." Like Ty, Norm practiced tirelessly and transformed his nascent show into 4 acts and 90 minutes of entertaining information, music, and humor.
Many people who knew of Ty Cobb knew only stories of a surly man. Norm's performance portrays an intelligent, meticulous ballplayer who approached the game as a science, and practiced and studied every aspect of it to succeed He embodies Ty Cobb so fully that he is Ty Cobb: Norm's shows conclude with 10-minute question and answer sessions, in which he remains in character, and says he thoroughly enjoys. "People get my passion for the character".
"I'm a ham," Norm confesses. "I love entertaining people." He loves telling about the good person Ty Cobb was; his philanthropic contributions to health and education, and how Cobb was able to springboard from utter tragedy at the start of his baseball career to become an unparalleled success, team manager,and millionaire entrepreneur. He loves it when people come up to him after a show and say, "I didn't know that about Ty Cobb." And, Norm says, "I never fail to get a standing ovation."
Norm has a natural talent for storytelling. As he says, "for every story I have, there's one behind it." His love for what he does is evident in his eyes, his tone of voice, his retelling of anecdotes of the trials and triumphs of bringing his dream to fruition.
Norm is a self-proclaimed minor celebrity in Half Moon Bay, proudly wearing his Detroit Tigers jacket everywhere, almost. Last fall Norm was involved in a conflict of loyalties when the Tigers were playing the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. He was getting booed when he rode his bike around town, and graciously hung up the signature jacket during the series. see article.
http://www.hmbreview.com/search/?t=article&d1=1+year+ago&q=tigers+jacket+away Norm, with his intrepid assistant, Clay Beatty, has performed "Ty Cobb-A One Man Show" for the Detroit Tigers, at the Ty Cobb Museum in Royston, GA, at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, MI, along with many performances throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also performed his two-man show with Steve Folven: "Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb-A Tale of Greatness" in Boston and New York.
"Coleman knocked my socks off," said Ron Myers of the Detroit Tigers, "He was Ty Cobb."
"It takes a lot of guts to perform a one man play...especially about Baseball...when your audience are astute Historians of the game as the SABR membership are. The play was historically accurate, and well structured, but also performed by a person who is, very apparent by his performance... passionate about his work!"
-Rick Schabowski, Society of American Baseball Research.
"In this age of steroid abuse and tainted records, the likes of Cobb, Ruth, Aaron, and Williams should be even more revered for playing the game the right way. Thank you for a great performance and your dedication to bringing this legendary player to life.' - Jim Kratsas of the Gerald R. Ford Museum.
Norm is an inspiration to the Forevercincuenta Community, as well as baseball fans and historians around the globe. He is a model for living a healthy, happy and generous life, giving of himself and his passions. We are honored to know Norm and privileged to share his story with you.
For more about Norm and Ty, please visit: http://www.tycobb367.com/Norm_Coleman_is_Ty_Cobb/Home.htmlAs always, we welcome your feedback, Wendy M Wood & Rafi Escoriaza, http://www.forevercincuenta.com
The I Care Project: CALLEE'S THE CHANGE SHE WANTS TO SEE.
On a sunny afternoon bike ride in Snell Isle we encountered a very special person. At first glance we saw a little girl waving to us under a tarp with a lemonade sign. We stopped, and as she offered us a lemonade, a story about caring unfolded.
This is Callee Rose, an eight-year-old philanthropist and avid bike rider. Last year when Callee realized many kids in her area didn't ride a bike because they didn't have one, she decided to do something about it. What started out as a class project turned into a sound local movement. For Christmas 2011 she managed to donate over 29 bicycles, 9 ride-on toys and 16 helmets to disadvantaged children in her area. Her efforts benefit the ASAP Women and Children's Homeless Shelter, and The Christmas Toy Shoppe.Callee does this generous feat with the time-honored tradition of a lemonade stand. She's outside her house weekend afternoons, selling great lemonade (ours was spiked with fresh raspberries) and homemade cookies. Her sign actually says the lemonade is "free", because all the money collected in her jar goes to her cause.
Her project and spirit are so strong, it's Callee's goal to donate twice as many bicycles and accessories this holiday season. While other eight year olds are out playing, Callee is manning her lemonade stand, finding bike sales, doing price comparisons, talking with people, and spreading her passion and philosophy that everyone who wants to, should be able to ride. What is amazing and inspiring about this little girl is that she has learned the rich gift of giving and the selfless acts involved, and she speaks about it all quite naturally. Callee's "I Care" project has transitioned from an individual effort to one of community, which involves many people, starting with family. Her parents, Cindy and Chris Connon provide a strong backbone for this undertaking. Their support is evident every step of the way, including braving the Black Friday crowds on Thanksgiving night to find bike bargains. And thanks to a generous neighbor's donation, Callee will have many more beneficiaries this year. Two years of charitable work is only the beginning for Callee. She has even greater plans for next year.P.S. To Donate online go to: www.asapfamilyservices.org
Ref: Callee's Bikes for Buddies
Note: This is the first social profile article highlighting remarkable people who positively impact our communities. If you have someone you'd like to celebrate, please send us a letter about them: firstname.lastname@example.org.WW&RE
The Chinese word "Ting" means to listen with one's mind, heart, eyes, and ears, and we are convinced that undiminished communication is key to a successful relationship.
photo courtesy of: freedigitalphotos.netIn this article we'll share with you what makes our union work. We hope to hear from other couples that we may all learn more ways to connect positively with each other.Love and friendship are the most important elements of our relationship. We have positive regard and mutual respect for one another, and appreciate the importance of dialogue. Not only when it's good and nice, but as a necessary tool for our growing bond. Nonverbal communication is just as important. A flower picked from the garden, holding hands on a walk, a foot rub after a tiring day, a kiss on the neck when one is doing the dishes. Everything that says "I appreciate you" in a small yet so significant way.
But let's step back a moment. How did we get started? It began with a request for a dance when the band started to play a blues song. A warm, receptive smile, and suddenly an oasis was created on the crowded dance floor. A few more dances, the exchange of phone numbers, and a subsequent date with a ferry ride and picnic on the Bay...We easily found common ground with music and dance, sports and food, among many other shared interests.The magic element was that we were ourselves with each other. Life is too short for bs! And we both knew it.
Our pasts receded as we were becoming a new Now. Soon another shared love surfaced as we realized we were both ready to travel, go across the country together and see what would be, could be, next...
Fast forward to the present and what keeps our relationship going. We have built our lives together, found a great place to live, with all the details and decisions involved. We planted ourselves in another part of the country, and planted a garden. We found connections with a spiritual community, do volunteer cooking for those less fortunate than us, and are involved with a local, vibrant culture of theater, films, concerts and sporting events. Love and dialogue, common interests and projects all help to keep us together; nonetheless there are other very important factors that cement our relationship.
Our faith and commitments to living a healthy life has brought growth and joy to each of us in areas where we were fractured. Instead of condemnation or criticism, we encourage and enliven. Tears and frustrations are heard, felt, and cathartically replaced with understanding and growth.
We laugh alot. This is crucial. To live with humor, to create, recognize, and foster laughter, is a great gift anyone can give and receive.
Intimacy is another important element that keeps us together. A warm glance, a little smile, a dance (with or without music), a touch, a snuggle, a wildflower, a kiss. and more... The key is consistency and frequency. We show each other that we care for one another daily.I am happy to make him breakfast, and I know he'll capture and release that huge palmetto bug that's taken up residence in the bathroom closet. Well, after she served me a great country breakfast, complimented with my favorite coffee, how could I resist chasing down and escorting our palmetto friend outdoors.My fortune cookie's message the other night read, "when you're done changing, you're done." And I'm so glad to know we'll never be done changing.
We would love to hear from other couples. Please share your experience in the "comments" section. www.forevercincuenta.com