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Reading Eagle

It was a day like any other: Sept. 8, 2010.

Russell Selkirk was on his way to work in Exton, Chester County, when a red light stopped him near Worcester, Montgomery County, changing life as he knew it for the electronics repair technician from Lansdale.It was there at that intersection that a pickup truck rear-ended Selkirk’s car, breaking the driver’s seat and snapping Selkirk’s vertebrae, paralyzing him from the hips down.Now, more than four years later, Selkirk, 42, will compete today in his second Philadelphia Marathon with a racing hand cycle granted to him through the Wyomissing-based IM ABLE Foundation. – See more at:

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Fox 43https://www.facebook.com/imablefoundation/photos/a.737987749552610.1073741835.178333052184752/886129798071737/?type=1&relevant_count=1

This bike ride is more than just an outdoor activity. For Patrick Sweeney, it’s freedom.

“Makes you feel like you’re whole again. Makes you feel like you’re back at it. Like you’re a normal person. You don’t have limitations, the sky’s the limit.”

Sweeney is one of 20 cyclists who particiated in “Get Up and Ride Day!” in Lancaster County Sunday afternoon.

All of them are physically challenged. But thanks to the IM ABLE Foundation, they now have access to adaptive bikes. The bikes are designed based on a person’s abilities. This one for example is a hand cycle. It allows someone who’s lost ability in their legs to ride using the hand cranks.

A former U.S. Marine and Founder of IM ABLE, Chris Kaag knows first hand what it’s like. “You wouldn’t believe what I would give to have your legs and to be able to get out there and do the things that you have the ability to do. I was 21-years-old, I was a marine and I thought I had the world figured out.”

Until he discovered he had a degenerative nerve condition. Once an avid mountain biker, he now uses a wheelchair to get around. “If I didn’t have this happen to me I don’t think I would appreciate all the great things that I have now,” Kaag added.

That appreciation is now being felt by others. For Thomas Matroni, it was about bonding with his family. “A lot of the time you can’t do some of the same stuff that they would do but for anyone else just to come out here and show them that it doesn’t matter what you may think your disability is, you can do anything you put your mind to,” said Matroni.

Hearing those words Kaag says, makes it all the more rewarding. “When we show them that there’s a possibility for them to get out there and do something, it’s pretty awesome.”

IM ABLE plans to expand services in Lancaster County. It needs $40,000 dollars to create a base of operations near Spooky Nook Sports in East Hempfield Township. If you’d like to volunteer or donate, click on the following link: http://imablefoundation.org/

 

http://fox43.com/2014/11/09/riding-through-challenges-in-lancaster-county/

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IM ABLE Sept 2014 007 IM ABLE Sept 2014 016IM ABLE Sept 2014 025

This September at the IM ABLE Duathlon and 5K, the foundation presented five worthy individuals with grants for adaptive cycling equipment. This presentation was the most grants IM ABLE has ever give out at one time! We want to thank all of our supporters for making this a possibility including those who contributed to the adopt-a-bike program at the IM ABLE Bash. At this pace, IM ABLE is slated to award over 30 grants to deserving people this year alone, and we could not have done this without each of you!

Because of the support of our IM ABLE family, we were able to change five incredible individuals lives. The five individuals who received grants all have seen immense benefits from their new adaptive equipment.

Lets get to know a little more about our five newest IM ABLE grant recipients!

Doug Horning lost his left leg in a motorcycle accident in 2011. An avid motorcyclist, Doug could not imagine his life without his “bike”. Now, through this grant, Doug is able to explore a new form of riding by using recumbent trike. Doug remarked, “even though I consider myself to be a beginner athlete, this grant allows me to be even more active and hopefully compete in the IM ABLE duathlon or even the Got the Nerve? triathlon”. We look forward to seeing where Doug’s ride takes him.

Lori Fetter, is a Pediatric Stroke survivor, who, as a result, was left with Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy and visual impairment. Lori also received a cycling grant.

Lori is an unbelievable individual who centers her life around educating others. Lori commented, “these physical challenges became opportunities [for me] to educate the general public and I dare say ‘pay it forward’ through volunteer activities”. By receiving a piece of recumbent “Delta” cycle, Lori now has that ability to “be more mobile, while providing a means of maintaining physical fitness.” Lori went on to say, “Receiving this IM ABLE grant benefits me by promoting a more active, independent and visibility enhancing lifestyle.” Lori looks forward to getting outdoors and enjoying her newfound independence. We can’t wait to see how far you go Lori!

 Shelly Houser was born with Hemi Pelvetomy, no hip or leg. She reached out to IM ABLE when she “came to the realization that [she] was letting life and things [she] used to enjoy pass [her] by”. With her new hand-cycle, she is “gaining confidence and staying active while spending time with [her] children.” She went on to say, “I am enjoying life again and forgot how fun cycling is”. Shelly goes further and further everytime she rides and is fulfilling the promise she made to her family and to herself to … get up and move!

Jamie Kirlin was in a motorcycle accident in 2010 and is a T-11 complete paraplegic. Now spending his life in a wheelchair, Jamie remarks on the struggles that he has faced: “Many things have been taken away from me as a result of using a wheelchair. But the most important one for me was physical activity- it was the hardest to deal with.” Through the work of the IM ABLE foundation and the support of our donors Jamie is now able to live a healthy lifestyle. He is able to ride his
hand-cycle and experience all the benefits of staying mobile and active.

Finally, meet Cory Weidman. Cory has AMN (Adrenomyeloneuropathy), which has left him without use of his legs. Cory does not look at his disorder as a limitation. He said, “My disorder does not define me and my abilities because there is always a way to accommodate and overcome ones disadvantages and live a can do life”. Through an IM ABLE grant Cory now has no limitations. He is out riding his hand-cycle daily and living a more active lifestyle than he could have ever imagined.

Thank you again to all of the IM ABLE supporters for making this grant presentation a reality. And as always… GET UP AND MOVE!

 

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After a devastating car accident, running helps a young Leesport woman get her life
back on track

By Courtney H. Diener-Stokes – Reading Eagle correspondent

Seven years ago, Kelly Garrity-Haldeman’s life was changed in an instant.

She was on her way to visit her brother at East Stroudsburg University.

“I was driving back down Route 33, which is a busy highway, and I hit an S-curve a little too fast, and my car flipped over twice and landed with the roof up on the median,” said Garrity-Haldeman, 29, of Leesport. “This was told to me. I don’t remember any of this.”

By sheer coincidence, a family friend, Lisa Kross of East Stroudsburg, Monroe County, who happened to be a nurse, was driving behind her vehicle when it crashed.

“She and her husband (Chris Kross) stopped, and they said I was trying to get out of the car, but they knew from the condition of the vehicle I should not be moving,” Garrity-Haldeman said.

That decision likely saved her life.

“I was medevaced to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest, and it turned out I had a small spot of blood on the brain, and both of my eyes, due to nerve damage, were still shut,” she said. “I had a broken nose, a broken toe and six skull fractures.”

She was unconscious when she arrived at the hospital.

“It turned out I had a small tear in my carotid artery,” she said. “If I had moved and that had torn more, I would have died,” she said.

Journey through recovery

After 11 days in the hospital, her journey to getting her life back on track would begin with six months of physical, occupational and cognitive therapy.

“I couldn’t walk at first,” she said. “I had to take physical therapy and aqua therapy.”

Garrity-Haldeman said the support she received from her family was instrumental in her recovery, particularly from her parents, John and Terri Garrity of East Stroudburg.

Her recovery period included making some adjustments to the way she lived prior to the accident.

“One of my eyes opened, and the other eventually did, but I sustained permanent nerve damage,” she said.

That resulted in blurred vision in her left eye, in addition to an eyeball that doesn’t move.

“It took three surgeries and now it (her eyeball) is centered in the middle,” she said. “I was really lucky and blessed I did not have to have any other surgeries.”

Garrity-Haldeman met her husband, Chris Haldeman, after the accident but prior to getting her eye surgery, which occurred six months after she was released from the hospital.

“I always say that I loved that he fell in love with me before I had the surgery (to correct my eye),” she said.

Dark phase and introduction to running

Garrity-Haldeman recalled a dark phase during her recovery period that brought her to tears when she described what she was feeling at that time.

“I just kind of gave up on life,” she said. “I didn’t go to the gym or anything. I gained a lot of weight from not doing anything, not being active.”

That all changed when she went to a Christmas gathering at her parents’ house in 2011.

“My brother’s girlfriend (now fiancee), Stacy McAdams from Lancaster, was there, and she looked fabulous and she had lost 20 pounds,” Garrity-Haldeman said. “I was so jealous of her, and I asked her what she was doing to look like that, and she said, ‘Running.’ I said, ‘I am not running.’ ”

She had never run prior to the accident. Her physical fitness regimen up until that time had consisted of being a cheerleader for the football and basketball teams when she attended East Stroudsburg University and doing the basics at the gym.

But she gave it more thought and took up an invitation to join her future sister-in-law for a run.

“I loved it, and it really changed me,” she said. “I never really thought about the capabilities I had prior to the accident. Running helped me lose 45 pounds.”

In 2013 she entered her first half-marathon, which she ran with McAdams in Asbury Park, N.J. The location was chosen due to her love of Bruce Springsteen and his connection to Asbury Park.

“It was amazing, and it was like the best day ever,” Garrity-Haldeman said. “I truly didn’t believe I could do that; I never knew I had that in me. I am so thankful she (McAdams) got me up and moving, and this is all because of her.”

Determined to help

Garrity-Haldeman was determined to do something good with her new love of running. Most recently, she participated in a half-marathon to raise money for the Lehigh Valley Hospital.

“It (the marathon) fell on the day seven years ago that they saved my life,” she said.

Garrity-Haldeman has her sights set on the New York City Marathon, which she will be competing in next month.

“My friend Christina Redner (who lives in Wyomissing) helped me get into the marathon through the IM Able Foundation,” she said. “They help those who can’t walk and provide them with those hand cycles. I thought it was for a really, really good cause. I can help people now who weren’t as lucky as I was to recover.”

The IM Able Foundation was founded by Chris Kaag, a former United States Marine who is the owner of Corps Fitness in Wyomissing and suffers from a degenerative nerve disease.

Prior to being involved with the foundation, Garrity-Haldeman said she never realized how lucky she was to be able to recover and participate in running.

“I spent so long feeling sorry for myself and not being truly grateful,” she said. “I am so honored to be meeting these people I am running for so they can realize their dream, too.”

Preparation

In addition to training outdoors, Garrity-Haldeman has been using virtual training and has a coach at Wyomissing Fitness in Wyomissing to help her prepare for the marathon.

“Dee Koutsourais-Ganster, who is a manager of Running Start (West Reading), has been helping me,” she said. “We became really good friends from me going in there.”

Garrity-Haldeman described how she is feeling with her full marathon on the horizon.

“I am very, very nervous,” she said. “I freak out a lot. I really want to be able to do this. I train really hard; I have given it everything.”

Contact Courtney H. Diener-Stokes: life@readingeagle.com.

Help Kelly reach her goal

Kelly Garrity-Haldeman, who is participating in the New York City Marathon next month, has reached $1,110 of her $2,000 goal to benefit the IM Able Foundation. If you want to help her reach or exceed that goal, visit bit.ly/1qjbrNM.

Love of running discovered

“I was unstoppable and it (running) lit a fire in me!” said Kelly Garrity-Haldeman. “I loved it. I ran to the gym, I ran to work, I ran to friends’ houses. I was so proud of the 45 pounds I shed in that year and all the hard work and dedication I found again within myself. I remember looking in the mirror one day thinking, ‘I spent so much time feeling sorry for myself and look what I can do? Look how many people aren’t as lucky as I am. I am alive, I can walk, and I can run!’”

Source: crowdrise.com

IM Able mission statement

The mission of the IM Able Foundation is to remove obstacles that prevent people affected by disabilities from being physically active by providing grants, resources, fitness opportunities and motivation. We change attitudes about the potential of disabled individuals by redefining what is possible.

Source: imablefoundation.org

For more information:

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Take a look at this featured story on Dan Webb and the IM ABLE Foundation that was aired on PHL17. Dan will be taking part in Ride Ataxia, a ride to help benefit research of Friedrich’s Ataxia, a debilitating, life-shortening, degenerative neuro-muscular disorder.

Find out more about Ride Ataxia and how you can take part.

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FB JULY 2013. p 28.29

FB JULY 2013. p 28.29

CORPS FITNESS, an inclusive fitness facility in Wyomissing, was established in 2004 by disabled Marine Corps Sergeant, Chris Kaag, with the goal of empowering and inspiring people of all abilities to do more than they thought they could.

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