If you have been into the gym over the last two weeks you may have noticed a familiar face in a familiar place. Jada Blitz’s very own Stephanie Szpila has been spotted rowing away for countless hours at a time to raise awareness and funding for Roswell Park.
While working as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, Stephanie worked her way through college and is now a licensed massage therapist at Blitz Body and Mind Massage. In addition to her time spent with clients in training and tending to their personal health and wellness, she has also dedicated her time as a registration secretary at the Chemotherapy Infusion Center at Roswell Park. I was given the opportunity to sit and talk to Steph one on one for some insight on how Roswell has inspired and changed her, “…working at both Jada Blitz and Roswell Park allows me to stay positive and remember what a true blessing life and health are every day. There is never a day that goes by that I don’t do my best to remain appreciative and mindful of what a gift life truly is.”
So what is this rowing all about and why is Stephanie doing it you may ask…with the help of Revolution Cycling and Rev Express, she has challenged herself to 300 miles, and she isn’t in it alone.
Last year Stephanie was given the opportunity to meet a young man undergoing treatment for leukemia, she observed him as he received his bone marrow transplants while riding a trainer bike or walking a treadmill in his hospital room. “An adventurer and avid cyclist, he would always share stories with me regarding his explorations and achievements before being diagnosed with his disease. He always said he was ‘riding the wave’ when I asked about his treatment plan”, but in November 2016 this young man lost his battle to leukemia, leaving behind something truly inspiring, moving, and powerful. Stephanie made the decision to sign up for the Empire State Ride across New York State and the Ride For Roswell. Collectively, she also decided to devote 1,000 miles in 2017 to the cancer patients she saw everyday and to the research being done to overcome this disease. When asked how her rowing challenge came into play and why she choose 300 miles, she shared “I will be riding the wave for him, going 100 miles for each of his bone marrow transplants, with an additional 100 miles for the next one he hoped would eventually cure his cancer.” Despite knowing this would be a lengthy and challenging task, requiring upwards of eight or nine hours on the rowing machine each day, “…there is nothing compared to the hours that some of these patients spend in chairs while receiving chemotherapy.”
At the start of her challenge, Stephanie openly invited her friends, family, co-workers, clients, gym members, and anyone who wanted to join her to sign up for a time slot and keep her company as she rowed. “So many people continue to come out and support me, sharing stories about how they have been personally affected by cancer…from Band Aids, coffee, even snacks, I have received a helping hand from so many.”
Having experienced cancer within her own family, Stephanie shared with me that while rowing in her first week her grandmother was admitted to Roswell Park as an inpatient, undergoing surgery for a malignant brain mass. This has served as another driving force behind her as she takes on the remaining 130,000 miles (roughly 20 hours) these next weeks.
As Stephanie continues to row for Roswell, she has already successfully raised over $3,000 to contribute to cancer research. If you are interested in joining her throughout the remainder of January as she strives toward her goal of 300 miles or to donate, please contact us or stop at the front desk. You can also visit her Empire State Ride fundraising page at http://give.roswellpark.org/site/TR/SpecialEvents/General?px=1008791&pg=personal&fr_id=1141.
On behalf of the entire Jada Blitz family, we would like to personally thank Stephanie for her passion, hard work and dedication to this challenge. We are so proud of you and stand both beside and behind you every stride of the way. “You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give” – E. O. Wilson