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GARY BALLETTO CHAMPIONS FES BIKE FOR CRANSTON YMCA

FES Bike Fundraiser a Success

Cranston, RI – The room at Cranston’s 39 West Restaurant was filled to capacity on May 19 for a very special reason, to raise funds for the purchase of a FES Rehabilitation Therapy bike for the Cranston YMCA’s Wellness Center.

The FES Ergometer Bike is a rehabilitation and functional tool for people with spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and effects of stroke. It uses pulses of an electrical current to stimulate peripheral nerves, evoking muscle contractions and patterned muscle activity.

It was a night of inspiring stories and inspired donors. The featured speaker was the charismatic former IBU World Lightweight Champion Gary Balletto, who appeared on ESPN’s The Contender before the accident that left him with a spinal cord injury and broken neck. Balletto has championed the cause of installing a FES bike at his local Y branch, speaking of its potential to help him walk again someday.

But the podium was also visited by two other powerful speakers, Kathy Andreozzi and David Guzman. Andreozzi’s daughter Tory also suffered a spinal cord injury after being struck by a drunk driver on her way home from school, and Andreozzi spoke of seeing her daughter make significant progress using the FES bike at the Newman YMCA in Seekonk, MA. “Tory’s favorite movie is ‘Pay it Forward,’ she said, “so that’s what we’re asking you all to do here tonight.” Seven year-old David Guzman, the son of Cranston teacher Issa Tejada, was so moved when he learned about Cranston’s plea for help with the FES bike that he donated all the gifts from his first communion to the effort.

After hearing the young Guzman speak, a man in attendance spontaneously donated another $1,000. By the end of the evening, the total raised had risen to $17,000, about halfway to the amount needed to purchase the piece of equipment.

“We are so encouraged by the outpouring from the Cranston community,” said Mike Norklun, the executive director of the Cranston Y. “We are halfway there because of the generosity of our friends and neighbors. This FES bike will change people’s lives, and we look forward to the day we have it in place for anyone who needs it.”

For more information on how to help the Cranston Y meet their goal, contact Mike Norklun at (401)943-0444 or mnorklun@gpymca.org.

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The mission of the YMCA of Greater Providence is to build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all, through programs, services and relationships that are based upon our core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. Founded as the Providence YMCA in 1853, the YMCA of Greater Providence is comprised of branches located in South Kingstown, North Kingstown, Warwick, Cranston, Providence, Barrington and Seekonk, MA, as well as Providence Youth Services and an overnight camp along the south coast. A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Greater Providence Y welcomes everyone.

 

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