Saratoga Regional YMCA Celebrates LIVESTRONG Program
By Arthur Gonick
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The skies had been gloomy all day, but the sun burst through just in time, sending shining rays of optimism down on all who were at the Union Gables Bed and Breakfast on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 11. The sunshine was welcome, but hardly necessary, as the attendees brought enough good cheer to brighten and enlighten anything.
The occasion was a luncheon gathering of well-wishers and participants in the Saratoga Regional YMCA’s LIVESTRONG program, who came together to share their experiences, but mostly to celebrate. Those who spoke, trainers in the program or cancer survivors, gave their own personal messages that were united in spirit under the keyword: HOPE.
LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is a 12-week exercise program, offered at little to no cost, to help survivors improve their strength and physical fitness, diminish the severity of therapy side effects, develop supportive relationships and improve their quality of life.
Following a greeting by Interim CEO Kelly Armer, Lauren Frankford and Nicole Griffiths, two LIVESTRONG coaches, detailed their experiences. Frankford noted, “…for every story of hardship, there are 15 positive ones.” Griffith cited the inspiration of her father, who passed at an early age after a long struggle with cancer. “I now coach the program to give others what I wasn’t able to give my dad,” she said.
Cancer survivor Carol Bataglia lauded the LIVESTRONG program at the YMCA, saying “… it was helpful on so many levels. It truly ‘takes a village’ of support to move ahead on a cancer journey, and this program provides it.” Her story shows “you should never be afraid to ask for help.” Survivor Cindy Swaba observed that the LIVESTRONG program at the Saratoga Regional Y was an aspect of their program offerings that she did not know about prior to having cancer, but, once enrolled, found the staff and program so motivating that “… no matter how I was feeling (because of her treatment) I made the commitment to go to my classes twice a week.”
Other speakers who shared stories of inspiration and survival included: Ann Lawton, a community liaison nurse at St. Peters Hospital’s Cancer Center; NYS Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner; Ellen Salerni, who is both a survivor and chair of the event committee; Susan Rhoades, development director at the Saratoga Regional YMCA and John Higgins, LIVESTRONG project manager.
The community at large was motivated to help the program, as evidenced by the afternoon’s 57 silent auction items, which Armer said valued $12,000 collectively. The proceeds of this afternoon’s celebratory luncheon would fund the LIVESTRONG program into the future, and guarantee some measure of sunshine for those in the community facing cancer’s darkness.
For more information about LIVESTRONG at the Saratoga Regional YMCA and their other programs, visit www.srymca.org