After eight weeks of intensive rehabilitation at the hospital, I went home to resume my roles as husband and father, Executive Director of the Palo Alto Family YMCA, and community leader. But, as you might imagine, that was a tall order. To resume my life as best as possible, I had to regain my strength and increase my flexibility and ability to move. But how could I do that? Well, I was very fortunate. Right down the street from my house was the Abilities United Aquatic Services. And as a career YMCA guy, I knew the benefits of water exercise for people of any age and ability. I have loved to swim since I was six years old, so this seemed like a natural and perfect way for me to get the rehabilitation and exercise I needed to rebuild my muscles.
So, as soon as I could, I called and made my first appointment to be evaluated for their aquatic rehabilitation and therapy sessions. Consequently, my first venture outside of our home was to the Abilities United Betty Wright Aquatic Services. With the help of my aquatics therapist, Morgan, I used the warm, buoyant water to enable me to stand on my feet, regain my sense of balance, and get hundreds of hours of strength training and cardio exercise. I also learned to make use of goggles and snorkel equipment. All of these enabled me to swim more than one hundred miles over three years, including the miles I have swum at the Abilities United Aquathon. My team and I have raised over $150,000 to help Abilities United provide services for people like me, and the thousands of other community members, who need these services. My Aquathon team – comprised of family members, friends, YMCA members and staff, from preschool age to folks in their late sixties – has had a lot of fun while making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities. As the 2015 Honorary Swimmer, I now have the opportunity to tell even more people how important Abilities United services are for our community members who live with a disability or may acquire a disability.
Why do I contribute, raise funds, and keep swimming in the Aquathon? Well, certainly because I need aquatic exercise and therapy. But more importantly, I want to make sure Abilities United continues to provide these services to all community members who do or can benefit. I invite you to join me and make your own charitable contribution to Abilities United. As a retired forty-year nonprofit executive, I can assure you that the money you give is used – actually stretched – to a high level of efficiency and effectiveness. The commitment of the Abilities United staff and volunteer board members ensures that they are constantly looking for better ways to reach out to people with disabilities and the community in general.
Please join me to keep Abilities United strong for today’s families and those who will need its services in the years to come.