The Power of Support

  • Positive Mindset Quote
  • Guardian Angle Healing Stone front
  • Guardian Angle Healing Stone back

Since 2015, I have challenged myself in a range of physical feats from Spartan Trifectas to Tougher Mudders, Ragnar Relays, Seaweeze half marathons, and soon my biggest one of all in July, the 500-mile Empire State Ride (#ESR20) for cancer research. I wouldn’t have the courage to do them if it weren’t for the support of friends, family, volunteers, and donors.

Physicality is a crucial aspect of training and performance, BUT never underestimate the power of positive mentality. Even though I trained hard, I wasn’t the strongest or the fittest in any of the races I have done. I cannot control those factors for a variety of reasons. Instead, I turn to what I can control, my mental focus, and attitude.

I repeatedly say to myself while training and during events that I am my only competitor. I never look at courses in advance in detail. I read about what a course consists of to help me train properly, but that’s it. I rather face the challenges at the moment and not give in to potential thoughts of psyching myself out.

Also, I don’t believe that mental strength is a solo accomplishment. Think of all of the times you mentally call upon living or deceased family member(s) or friend(s) to help pull you through a situation.

What about the influence of volunteers? A volunteer cheering for you along a race route can have a powerful effect on lifting your energy level and your mental spirit. That is one of many reasons why I have gratitude for event volunteers. When you travel solo and do races, a volunteer’s physical presence and encouraging words can have a significant impact on your success by helping refocus your mindset when you start to feel drained!

Then there are donors, who play a key role in fundraising events. Whether it’s in the form of money for the charity or goods from a company. Each time I receive a donation from a person or business, no matter how small or large, I am grateful. It makes me feel like the person or company believes in me!

The moment of clarity about the power of support by others came to me during a peaceful training ride this past Sunday while I was “talking with” a friend who recently crossed from living to deceased.

I received word nearly two months ago that my friend Beth, battling breast cancer for the second time, was moving to California at the end of February to be with her daughter. I spoke with Beth, and the last thing she said to me was wow, about the 500-mile ride, and that once she is back on her feet, I have to come to visit her in California. But two weeks later, on March 13, she passed away. Beth was super kind and spunky with an F cancer attitude. If anyone was going to beat cancer, I thought it would be her.

Three days after Beth’s death, my friend Maureen, Beth’s best friend, contacted me to say she had a healing stone for me with a guardian angel on one side and Beth’s thumbprint on the other. Maureen explained to me that hospital volunteers helped Beth to make them. The healing stone came in a small powder blue drawstring pouch.

I immediately went home and attached the pouch to the front of my bike handlebars. Each time before I do a training ride, I say, are you ready, Beth? Let’s do this!!! Some of my training days go better than others, but I always know and feel that Beth is with me, nudging me on.

The Empire State Ride benefits cancer research at a time when funding is needed more than ever to help those battling all forms of cancer. The pandemic significantly increases cancer patients’ vulnerability to losing their fight.

I have a lot more physical training ahead of me for the ESR, but I know from the past, that with positive mental focus drawn from the support of others I can do it! Especially with Beth riding my handlebars and steering me along the way!

If you would like to make a contribution on #GIVEFROMHOMEDAY to the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, and help me reach my goal of raising $3,500, please click on the link to my donation page. THANK YOU

Shout-Out to My Supporters:

Thank you to each of my Empire State Ride donors, especially those who gave during the pandemic financial crash. Also, recognition to Terry Bicycles, particularly Lisa and Camarin, who have generously helped me to get the quality and safe cycling gear that I need.

Maureen Kennedy
Rita Rich
Stephanie Khan
Philip Avner
Marion Anthony
Kirk Nangreaves
Alicia Zimmerman Kenney
Linda Barefoot
Nicolas Stutzman
Jerri Limer
Christina Lemucchi
Lori Joyce

The Time the World Stayed Home

Photo from my trip home September 2019.

I never thought I would experience a life in which hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are dying, we are mandated to stay at home for our good, and our environment transforms into a VR-like world!

This past summer, I went on a guided tour of the 9/11 Memorial in NYC. It brought up emotions I kept suppressed for years and was heartbreaking in ways that I cannot describe. I left the tour thinking alright, that was the worst. We will continue to rebuild our structures and strengthen our battered souls. Things can only go up. But a mere three months later, after that tour, something even more horrific came along… the coronavirus.

Two terms quickly immersed themselves in our daily vocabulary — SARS-CoV-2, the virus, and COVID-19, the disease. Depending on where you live in the world, CoV-2 is effecting you at different levels. In the U.S., my beloved NYC (New York is my home state) is pummeled, while my equally revered West Virginia is plugging along steady under the radar.

Under physical distancing restrictions, the new normal is gathering via Zoom or similar communication formats. It’s great living during a time when technology can keep us connected audio and visually, and many jobs can continue through telecommuting. I cannot imagine this pandemic scenario without the aid of technology.

The premise of Gal on the Go is to inspire good mental and physical health, so I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize the massive surge in creativity and kindness. Also, overdue respect for occupations like healthcare workers, first responders, grocery store and pharmaceutical clerks, cleaners, and more. They are what and who that gives me hope in this grave situation.

At the end of March, I heard that someone in my apartment building had COVID-19. I knew that it spreads at a rapid rate, and having to take my dog Bella out to potty and walk five or more times a day put her and me at high risk every day, even under Stay at Home circumstances. The constant trips up and down the building stairwell or elevator, dousing myself in rubbing alcohol, changing and washing clothes, afraid to cuddle with my dog was stressing me out.

Both our jobs switched to teleworking, so my boyfriend and I got out of Dodge and headed with Bella to a cabin we have visited for years in West Virginia. We made the decision fast and packed up equally quickly. We trust the owners of the property who, over time, became like an uncle and aunt to us. Immediately upon arrival at the cabin, I felt a sense of peace. A handful of people in a country area is a typical sight, but in the suburbs or city, that same view is unsettling. There is no mailing address for the cabin, so any packages we order are sent to “Uncle Dave and Aunt Karen’s” home. Uncle Dave comes by to deliver our supplies, leaves them on the porch, knocks on the door, and proclaims, “Santa is here!” He’s not a jokester, so his delivery method is very endearing.

I miss physical contact with my friends a great deal. Especially as an Italian, because I am a big hugger! It’s funny; I hear many people who are self-proclaimed introverts say this way of living is not much different for them. However, I lean more on the extrovert side, and this living to me is tormenting. A friend posted on FB that when we all get through this, he will never RSVP “no” to anything he is invited. I don’t think I can say never, BUT this pandemic makes you reassess a lot of your decisions, past, and future.

I love being able to check in on friends through social media to see that they are alright. That is a privilege. If I lose any friends, I hope that it’s because you unfriended me. I want to have all of my current friends when we make it through the pandemic and figure out our new normal of living.

I look forward to seeing you again in person and meeting people who have become new friends online during this distancing time. Stay well.

I❤️NY and all of my friends around the world!

Dan Oshier Productions used a drone to capture beautiful footage of my hometown of Buffalo, NY, under lockdown. The people are the heart of the city, and I hope that one day Dan’s company reshoots the area with the people out and about.