My Road To Recovery

“Life with special needs is not a sprint it is a marathon.  If you keep going at the pace you are going you will never make it to the finish line”.  At the time a friend told this to me I had no idea how profound an effect it would have on me.  I was fresh to the world of special needs and my daughter had just been diagnosed with Smith Magenis Syndrome (SMS).  SMS is a rare neurobehavioral genetic syndrome that affects roughly 1 in 25,000 individuals.  Upon receiving this diagnosis adrenaline became my friend and I was desperate to find answers, help, support, and most importantly direction.  I wanted to do this as fast as I could because I thought it would make the pain go away.  I soon realized that at the pace I was moving I was going to burn out and be useless to myself and to those who needed me most.  It became clear to me that I was going to have to train my mind to go the distance.  In other words, pace myself.

Prior to this life-changing event I had always enjoyed exercise.  Spinning was my outlet and it helped keep both my mind and body in sync.  However, it soon proved to be inadequate to keep my emotions stable.  I needed a different routine, a new focus and an exciting challenge.  I decided to take a shot at running.  Running regularly and competitively is an activity I had never really accomplished and quite honestly never thought I could.  Much like everything else in my life I just jumped right in.  Never gave much thought to training or working my way into it and I loved it!!! I felt powerful, in control, and organized.  In my new chaotic and disorganized life it was exactly what I had been yearning for.  My favorite part was that I determined my pace, I chose the distance and I was in control of my direction.  And at the end of every run there was an accomplishment waiting for me.  I can’t really say that about anything else in my life.

But sure enough within months I experienced my first injury.  I had to respect my body and give it the time it needed to heal and just hope that I could get back on the road.  My experience with running seems to parallel my life with a special needs child. There are setbacks and disappointments along the way and much like respecting your body you must respect your emotions and give yourself appropriate time to heal and grieve before you can pick yourself up and move forward on the road or in life.

My passion for running was teaching me much more than just how to run but how to live my life.  As the months went on I suffered several more injuries until finally my husband bought me the gift of a personal trainer.  It was Michelle Maturo, owner of the Elevation spinning and training studio.   This was a turning point for me.  I began nourishing my body with the strength it needed to go the distance.   Thanks to Michelle and her staff I began listening to my body and finding out what it needed.  And before I knew it I was up and running again.   This physical and mental training taught me that in order to fully accept my life with special needs I needed to work on all of me and find a purpose and a unifying goal.  For me, that culminated in the creation of a foundation dedicated to raising funds for SMS research.  I started fundraising, networking, and raising awareness and it felt great.   It felt like I was running my life rather than it running me.

Last year the Strength for Sydney Spin-a-Thon was a huge success.   Thanks to Michelle Maturo and her amazing staff we had a fun and exhilarating fundraiser.  This year, I wanted to organize an event that represented my two passions: raising money for Smith Magenis Syndrome and running and so the first annual Strength for Sydney 5K run/walk to benefit the SMS Research Foundation was born.  The Elevation Studio in West Redding, CT. will host this exciting and inspiring event.   The venue holds a special place in my heart because it is where I truly began my road to recovery.  First physically but in the end I learned the skills to heal emotionally as well.

Please join us on Saturday October 15th, 2011 at 8 AM for what promises to be an amazing morning with a run or walk for every member of the family.