One thing I loved about my career as a trainer at the YMCA was that I got to meet all sorts of wonderful people! They were from all over the spectrum as far as fitness levels and needs go. Many became friends but one person who was special was Dick Harvey.
I met Dick after he had a major stroke. I had been training for a number of years already, and since I began my fitness career later in life I felt more comfortable being able to work with him. He was in a wheelchair that he moved using his legs. I remember first talking with him and thinking his goals were very lofty. Dick told me from the beginning he wanted to be able to get out of his wheelchair and walk, even if it were only short distances. You see, his doctors told his family that he would never get out of bed again after the stroke. He was determined to prove them wrong and was focused on just getting to a chair. Once he made it there he joined the Y and we began working together.
It started fairly slow and a lot of what we did was working on leg strength. He soon told me he wanted to bring a walker in with him and try using it. I was nervous at first, but realized as much as he wanted to push it, he knew when he had to pull back. It wasn’t long, though, before he was using a cane for short walks. He told me many times his doctors were amazed to hear the things he was able to do. These were a lot of the same docs who said he wouldn’t get out of bed again!
We talked a lot about what he wanted to try and he was very in tune with what his body needed. Some things we did that seemed simple to me were so difficult for him, and many times he would get frustrated but he never gave up! We had a great bond from the beginning and had some great conversations during our sessions. He had an amazing sense of humor and everyone at the Y loved seeing him come through the door.
The stroke he had started to take its toll on him a number of years later and other health issues came up. Through all this he never lost his faith in God, and many times kept me on the straight and narrow during tough times in my life. He was one of those people who made you realize even though life can, and will, be very tough and put obstacles in your way, LIFE IS GREAT!
He passed away a couple of years ago. I do miss our conversations and hearing his life stories but the memories I have will always be there. LIFE IS GREAT!
Until next time…