By Anastasia Marchese
This year marks a decade of service for the nonprofit, “Push to Walk.” For ten years the organization has been helping people with spinal cord injuries reach beyond their diagnosis to become more independent and strong, both physically and mentally. The past year has brought some big changes to the nonprofit as they recently relocated and also hired a new Executive Director David Font.
In 2007, “Push to Walk” (PTW) first opened in Bloomingdale; 18 months later they already needed to expand to meet their growing client base and relocated to a larger facility in Riverdale. Then just last year they once again moved to an even larger facility to be better able to serve their clients. According to their website, “Since 2007, Push to Walk has served more than 370 families and 176 clients, all motivated to work to enhance their quality of life.”
Often insurance companies will only cover a predetermined amount of physical therapy sessions a year, or will choose to stop paying for treatment if it seems the patient’s progress has reached medical expectations. PTW thinks beyond predetermined expectations to what can be possible. Its motto is “Redefining possibilities for the spinal cord injury and paralysis community,” and it really speaks to its mission to support and encourage those with paralysis and help them to become their fullest selves and not to let them be defined by their condition.
Cynthia Templeton founded PTW with her son Darren after he had suffered an injury to his spinal cord back in 2004. During his treatment and recovery process Darren had found that he benefited greatly from a gym based one-on-one personal training program located in California. Participating in that program gave them the idea to start a similar one in NJ. Last year Templeton chose to move out of the director position in favor of her new role. Font has now been with PTW for the past seventh months and is pleased to be organizing the 10th anniversary events taking place throughout 2017.
Every month of 2017 PTW has hosted an Open House where the public can come in and see their facility and clients at work. The June Open House is set to be held on June 22 between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. People can call ahead and sign up for a tour or just come over during those hours. Other events and fundraisers coming up this year are also listed on their website.
According to Font, “Once their benefits run out and if they wouldn’t benefit from a traditional gym or can’t participate in a traditional gym,” many clients find their way to “Push to Walk” where they are encouraged to keep growing with the help of one on one trainers. When speaking of who can benefit from their services, “Our clients one unifying condition is paralysis,” said Font. Not everyone can afford this type of treatment, so PTW has formed a scholarship fund as well as organized a Fund Raising Kit, to help clients and their families have access to the program. Information can be found about scholarships on the “Push to Walk” website.
“Clients come from as far as East Stroudsburg, Pa. and one client even comes from Manhattan once a week,” commented Font. PTW is working to spread the word about its services to area hospitals and doctors that treat spinal cord injuries hoping that they can “work more closely with each other. We would like to be sort of a resource for people.”