Tell us what you’re doing to stay strong along The Road to Wellness! Contact us through our Facebook page if you’d like to be featured.
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Thaddeus Miles, Founder of HoodFit
For five years The Dimock Center has partnered with HoodFit and the Boston Athletic Association to promote mental, physical, and spiritual health in our community by organizing the Road to Wellness 5K each September. We owe so much to this collaboration for continuing to improve this event and engaging with the Greater Boston community.
HoodFit was founded by Thaddeus Miles, Director of Community Services at MassHousing. As a movement, HoodFit isn’t just about being physically healthy—it seeks to inspire young people and encourage wholeness: physically, spiritually, and financially. Your “hood” means where you grew up, and at the core of HoodFit is the belief that our backgrounds and struggles are valuable and help cultivate strength and resilience.
For Thaddeus, wellness is more than exercising regularly or eating healthily. He turns to photography, biking, and traveling to destress and makes time for his friends and family to practice wellness in all areas of his life.
While this year marks the 5th anniversary of the Road to Wellness 5K, the race has its roots in a 5K that Thaddeus organized in 2014. He started the original race because while there were a lot of races in other Boston neighborhoods, he didn’t see any races in Roxbury, and he wanted to address that gap within the community. The Road to Wellness 5K offers an opportunity to build community, offer health education, and promote wellness and healing.
The Road to Wellness 5K has changed a lot since its launch a few years ago. Now, the Road to Wellness 5K features a Health and Fitness Pavilion, two separate routes for runners and walkers, and free training sessions throughout the summer leading up to the 5K. Thaddeus believes one of the reasons our partnerships work so well is because each partner does different things but all share a “commonality around community.”
Tom Croswell, President and CEO of Tufts Health Plan
The Road to Wellness 5K Walk/Run is much more than a 5K – it’s a day dedicated to inspiring health of the mind, body, and spirit through fitness and wellness while embracing Roxbury’s rich history, diverse culture and strong sense of community. Tom Croswell, president and CEO of Tufts Health Plan, truly believes in this mission. To him it’s only natural that Tufts Health Plan, Presenting Sponsor of the Road to Wellness 5K Walk/Run and The Tufts Health Plan Health and Wellness Pavilion, is a part of this celebration. Tom proudly noted that Tufts Health Plan’s relationship with The Dimock Center is “at the core of our shared missions of improving the health and wellness of the diverse communities we serve.”
The Walk/Run is just one significant piece of the overall special Tufts Health Plan/Dimock Center partnership. It also includes: board leadership, with Juan Lopera, Tufts Health Plan vice president of business diversity, as co-vice chair of The Dimock Community Foundation Board, the impactful service days on our campus, and the support of our annual Steppin Out event. It’s clear Tufts Health Plan is a meaningful partner in achieving our mission in promoting health and wellness in our communities. Tufts Health Plan didn’t stop there, though – through employee Isioma Chukwu’s participation and support as a member of Team Dimock in the Boston Marathon, she was able to raise over $12,000 to support Dimock programs and services. Tufts Health Plan also serves Dimock’s 197 employees as its health plan.
Increasing accessibility is a priority for us at this year’s 4th Annual Road to Wellness 5K Walk/Run. Tufts Health Plan is helping us make this event one that all can participate in; employees from its Business Resource Groups, which are employee affinity groups, are volunteering to be sighted guides for our blind and visually impaired division of the event. Tom looks forward to Tufts Health Plan’s participation in partnership with Dimock on this important initiative of increasing accessibility at the Road to Wellness 5K Walk/Run.
Tom’s health and wellness inspiration comes from his 92-year old mother, Mary Croswell, who lives independently and says to always “keep moving.” No matter your age, ability, or skill, Tom encourages us all to “just keep moving.” On Saturday, September 8th, with the generous support of Tufts Health Plan, we are excited to present the 4th Annual Road to Wellness 5K Walk/Run. Join us, and register today!
This summer we are excited to welcome eleven teens, ages 14-18, from the Boston area who are participating in our Teen Ambassador program, generously supported by the Trefler Foundation. The Teen ambassadors are developing leadership skills and workplace experience by conducting outreach activities to promote the Road to Wellness 5K Walk/Run to their peers. Grace, incoming 10th grade student at Boston Latin School, finds being a Teen Ambassador rewarding. “[The program] prepares me for the real world, gives me real life experiences, and challenges me,” she says.
The Teen Ambassadors have been busy this summer – they host weekly tables on Dimock’s campus and at various community events; distribute Walk/Run posters and flyers to surrounding neighborhoods and their own communities; promote the event at teen programs in Roxbury and surrounding neighborhoods; utilize social media to generate excitement about the event; and participate in and promote the Walk/Run training sessions.
Katie, a member of the John D. O’Bryant Track Team, has been especially excited to participate in and promote our free weekly training sessions. Katie’s experience and enthusiasm with track and field has helped her to promote the Road to Wellness 5K, health, and wellness this summer.
Janelle, a rising senior at Milton High School, is passionate about the mission of the event – promoting health and wellness of the mind, body, and spirit. Janelle notes, “Growing up as a young black woman, I started to realize the importance of exercise, so I became involved in exercise activities that my church held. African-American adults are 80% more likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic white adults! Many African-Americans do not know this, nor understand the impact running or even walking has on the body.” The Road to Wellness 5K Walk/Run is an event for everybody, and through our Teen Ambassador program, we are engaging more young people who are making a difference in their communities.
Please join our Teen Ambassadors on September 8th at the Road to Wellness 5K Walk/Run!
Jacqueline Blount – President, Academy Homes Tenant Council and Walk/Run Planning Committee Member
Road to Wellness 5K participants will be walking or running through the historic Roxbury community, celebrating our community’s roots and exploring the vibrancy it has to offer. Jacqueline Blount embraces this rich history every day. She lives at Academy Homes, just steps away from The Dimock Center, where she’s the President of the Academy Homes Tenant Council.
Jacqueline has lived at Academy Homes for 27 years and has worked her job for 34 years; long-lasting community is important to her. Still, she’s excited to meet new people and try new things. After participating in the Road to Wellness 5K twice, Jacqueline is now a member of the Road to Wellness Planning Committee. Being a part of this committee is very different for her, and she’s enthusiastic about making the Road to Wellness 5K a wonderful event for the community. Being a part of the committee has also allowed her to meet new people with similar values – the committee is comprised of engaged, passionate individuals from all walks of life.
To Jacqueline, the Road to Wellness is about making meaningful connections as well as celebrating health. Three years ago Jacqueline knew that she needed to take control of her health, and she quit smoking (go Jacqueline!). At the Road to Wellness 5K, Jacqueline will be celebrating her health by doing something she truly enjoys – walking. After many years of wheezing while walking up stairs, Jacqueline now walks up with ease. She feels good about her health and is ready to join her community in participating in the Road to Wellness 5K Walk/Run.
Thank You to Our Partners!- HoodFit and The Boston Athletic Association
For outstanding years in partnership with HoodFit and The Boston Athletic Association. This collaboration continues to engage the community in holistic approaches through fitness resources that will lead participants along their own journey to wellness.
HoodFit, a movement that seeks to amplify the positive attributes, experience resilience and exercise strategic problem solving, was founded by Thaddeus Miles, Director of Community Services for MassHousing. Being “fit” means taking care of our body, mind and spirit. HoodFit embraces the connection between mind, body and spirit—take care of your body and your mind will follow…take care of your spirit and your body will follow. As a founder of The Road to Wellness 5K Walk/Run, having revived the Roxbury 5K in 2014 after more than three decades of
dormancy; Thaddeus always believed in giving the community a rewarding experience and an opportunity to live healthier lives. HoodFit is built on the belief that within our communities there are unsung assets, gifts and benefits that bring strength. Thaddeus’s diligence in bringing strength to our communities, and giving people a voice to advocate for their own health, is exemplified in his tireless work not only within his role at HoodFit and MassHousing, but also through his personal passion in giving back to people around the world.
More than 130 years after its inception, the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) continues to be a leader within the sport of road racing and annually carries on the tradition of the Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest consecutively run marathon. At its core, the B.A.A.’s mission serves to promote healthy lifestyles through running, to engage the community and to provide an access point to the sport through comprehensive year-round programming.
For four years, the B.A.A. has proudly partnered with The Dimock Center and HoodFit for the Road to Wellness 5K. Under the leadership of CEO Tom Grilk and the B.A.A. Board of Governors, and guided by their vision to extend the spirit of running throughout Boston and the Greater Boston area, the organization is grateful for the opportunity to bring its assets to bear to get members of the Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan communities of all ages and abilities excited about running.Members of the Boston Athletic Association annually attend the Road to Wellness 5K and participate in a variety of ways, from assisting race organizers, participating in the training clinics, volunteering for and participating in the race. According to B.A.A. Youth and Community Engagement Director Suzanne Walmsley, who spearheads the effort for the B.A.A., the Road to Wellness 5k is a remarkable event that has been fully embraced by the community. “The opportunity to run along the historic, tree-lined streets of Roxbury and to see the joy on peoples’ faces as they cross the finish-line, the culmination of weeks of dedication and preparation, is an example of the best that running has to offer. Whether it’s the Boston Marathon or the Road to Wellness 5K, the community spirit and individual empowerment is the same. Providing those experiences is a core value upon which the Boston Athletic Association was founded. We couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this partnership.”
The growth in overall participation and increase in awareness within the community, are direct results of our partner’s dedication and commitment. We are tremendously grateful for their passion and advocacy for health and wellness within our community.
Nadine Walker Mooney- Community Leader and Walk/Run Planning Committee Member
Nadine Walker Mooney still remembers her daily running routine from her college years. She remembers the exact route, the distance, and most of all, the overwhelming satisfaction of a long run.
It’s been a few years since Nadine has run, and with much enthusiasm and determination, she’s getting back to running for the Road to Wellness 5K Walk/Run. Even with her extensive history of running, this is a year of firsts for Nadine.To Nadine, winning is more than being the first to cross the finish line; instead, she says “it’s celebrating life by participating in it, that matters the most.”
Adding to the list of first time experiences, this year is Nadine’s first year as a Road to Wellness 5K Planning Committee Member. As a committee member Nadine hopes to increase the engagement of disabled runners and walkers, especially among the blind and visually impaired community, of which she is a part. During the Road to Wellness 5K, Nadine will be a part of Team With A Vision, an affiliation of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, where she will run with her sighted guide.
For those Road to Wellness 5k participants who need sighted guides, Nadine suggests getting matched with one as soon as possible. To learn more about finding a guide or becoming a guide check out https://www.mabcommunity.org/mabvi/team-with-a-vision.html. Working together with various communities, we are committed to making The Road to Wellness Walk/Run an accessible event! Register now for free to participate in the Road to Wellness 5k on September 8th!
Finding Her Happy Pace: Ivy Taylor, Road to Wellness 5K Coach
Just one conversation with Ivy Taylor can compel you to go on a run with her, if only to have more time to talk with this warm, engaging woman. And every Saturday this summer at our free weekly trainings in Franklin Park, you can! Ivy Taylor, 49-year-old runner born and raised in Boston, is one of our Road to Wellness 5K Walk/Run training clinic coaches. Her goal as a coach is to make people feel comfortable while running. When Ivy isn’t coaching, she’s doing one of her other favorite activities: having fun with family, hitting the gym, and traveling (usually to participate in a race). Needless to say, staying active is a prominent part of Ivy’s life and has been since 2011.
In 2011, Ivy had a goal to combat diabetes and high blood pressure. She successfully completed a Couch to 5K training in Franklin Park, which led to her competing in her first race in June of 2011. Running helped her to achieve her health and wellness goals. She no longer needed her diabetes and blood pressure treatments, but she didn’t stop there. Ivy has continued to compete in 5K and 10K races both locally and throughout the country. Then, in 2016, with rain pouring down on her, Ivy crossed the finish line of her first half-marathon. Ivy hasn’t ruled out another long distance run, but until she sets a date, she’ll continue participating in charitable 5K and 10K races.
In many of her early races, Ivy felt alone – she didn’t see many runners who looked like her. That’s why in 2014 she joined Black Girls RUN! Boston. This vibrant community of women supported her, and she found true sisterhood within the common health interests and goals of the group. In fact, Ivy says that Black Girls RUN! Boston is “one of the best cheer squads out there.”
For Ivy, running is not about setting personal records, instead, it’s about being there for one another, running with a friend, and believing in each other. Ivy encourages us all to “find our happy pace and enjoy the run.” Please join us at Franklin Park every Saturday as we prepare for the Road to Wellness 5K Walk/Run on September 8th.
August 4th, 2017 – Sense of Living: Tiffany Chenault
(You can follow Tiffany’s running journey on www.runisee50.com !!)
I’ve been running for the last 5 years. I started running as a way to deal with the grief of losing my mother. Actually a friend had asked me to be apart of her Harpoon 5 Miler Relay team in 2013. Being a team player, I told her I would do it. I had never run in a race or even ran before. I was totally extremely nervous when I ran. This was a culture and community I didn’t know anything about. Plus I wasn’t a runner. I didn’t fit the stereotype of a runner nor a runner’s body. I walked and ran the course. There was something that clicked after I finished. I felt a new energy and purpose. I started to feel of sense of living in the world and not just being in it.
The Harpoon 5 miler was in May of 2013 and I was 39 years old. I ran the Tufts 10k in October with a couple of 5k races in between. This was the beginning of my running journey. From there I went to running my first half marathon at 40 with the Race to Remember. One wasn’t enough. I decided to run 4 half marathons that year to celebrate each decade of my life. That lead to running my first marathon the following year ( Flying Pig marathon) to running 50 half marathons in 50 states. August will be state number 29 in North Dakota.
What has also helped was joining and later being one of the ambassadors to Black Girls Run – Boston Chapter. Unfortunately distance running is seen as a white sport or its something the “Africans” do. People don’t see it as something that African-Americans do. As I started to run races, I realize the lack of racial diversity in running. I am a member and ambassador for Black Girls Run Boston. BGR is a national organization, a movement for black women and women of color to run and get healthy. Since joining Black Girls Run, I’m able to see women who look like me and have different body shapes, skin tones, hair textures, and these ladies run. That alone is motivational and inspiration.
As I continue my running journey and also running black women who participate in recreational running (I’m a sociologist and I found there is very little research on black women who run), I make sure to not to race out of state because September is reserved for the Road to Wellness 5k. I love this 5k. To actually run in the city, the heart the city and in the black urban community is amazing. Every year that I have participated it has grown. It’s nice to have a large number of community members run and participate. This event just makes me happy.
July 21st, 2017 – Powerful and Purposeful: Gael Henville
We are SO thrilled to feature this week the coach and coordinator of our weekly Training Clinics – Gael Henville!
Running is my hemoglobin; my epiphany and my savior; full stop! As it is difficult to encapsulate that moment of falling in love, for me it is the same with running. I come alive, I feel POWERFUL and PURPOSEFUL when I lace up, become one with the road and push this ordinary body to perform extraordinary feats! Simply, running becomes me; it is who I am! I am competitive and will always compete against the last run or race. However, the biggest motivator is remaining healthy via this sport to see my grandchildren live out their dreams.
I grew up in a Caribbean village and loved playing with the boys; we’d play cricket, marbles, climbing trees, wheel barrow races, rolling a tire with a stick or sliding down mud banks in the rain in full school uniform. My dad would tote me most everywhere he went including the cricket field that was also a small track. One day he said to me, “if you want to run, go run then” and so off I went chasing the other kids and pretty soon, I was beating them around the track. I look back and feel that those were some of the best years of my life; running was pure and simple. We practiced and raced on a dirt track with the lanes marked in chalk and the finish line tape was a rope held by other kids. I ran 60 meters. I did not pursue track during my high school years when I migrated to the U.S. due to teasing, and it is my BIGGEST regret of that period. However, I continued to run. We live in Natick and I’d run on 135. My deep desire to pursue distance came when we watched the 1984 Boston Marathon. Going from 60 meters to 42+ kilometers was unimaginable, but the runners seemed to be having a great time. I got my chance to convert in 1991 when I set out lose the last bit of weight from my pregnancy. Running was the only exercise that I was aware of that I knew would work. It is where I live. Almost 31 years later, and am still very much in love with this sport that has rewarded me in numerous ways.
I am fortunate that I come from a family of athletes including my significant other which makes my personal life very easy. I have a brother, but I was my father’s first born “son” and am still very much a tom boy wrapped in pink. Everyone understands my need to go out and run for three hours without complaint. During high-mileage (50-60) weeks, family members will take turns dropping me off on the Boston Course and support me along the way as I run back to the City. They “get it” that this is who I am and it makes for an easier balance. Same with my employer; they too allow me to take off early for races or a long run. They know that I often return from my runs with a solution; running is very good at sorting things out mentally. My siblings were track athletes too. My sister and I raced together and my brother still runs a 5K in 24 minutes. Although not intentional, many of my friends are also runners. Those who I try my hardest to influence are the ones who are thinking of it, but are afraid to start. Each day, when I head off to work, I sling my gym back across my back, tie my running shoes together and hang them from my shoulder hoping that I will invite a conversation.
The Road to Wellness is HUGE and it is necessary for our community! Boston is comprised of 23 communities and I have ran 22; East Boston is logistically challenging via the streets. I have been running through this City since 1992 and have been hoping to inspire other women/men of colour to join me. Over the years, I have also observed obesity rate increase at an alarming rate. We are a pedestrian City, the running capital of the world with access to many parks, paths, trails, that to this day remain under-utilized. Running works! When I was asked to become a member of this great venture, I did so without hesitation because I KNEW that it was going to be the inroad to reducing the numbers. When registration doubled last year, it underscored the importance of this event.
The greatest satisfaction for me in this journey has been the running clinics and the finish line. I was asked to coach during height of my marathon training season and I was worried about not being able to remain committed. Hearing from the participants about how much they look forward to our clinics and watching them come across the finish line of the race stronger than their first training day with wide grins of accomplishment is a great motivator. I so very much believe in this process that I have rearranged my long runs so that I am available for our clinics. If it means taking ½ day off on a Friday to get in 18 miles or getting up at 4:30 a.m. on the morning of the Clinic to get in my mileage, then so be it. Sharing my gift with others who in turn use it for a fitter and healthier lifestyle is my biggest motivation!
July 7th, 2017 – Running Towards Life: Caleb Edgehill
This week our Fitness Profile highlights one of our very own interns here at The Dimock Center!
I was born in the Bronx, NY & I am 21 years of age. I have been Running Cross Country & Track since 2009 along with practicing yoga for 5 years. I have loved the vitality that exercise gives the human experience. Being a member of many nationally ranked running clubs and teams across the United States, the latest one is Charleston Southern University’s running program within South Carolina. Being in running clubs greatly helped my running journey with regards to building a great foundation. Many of the workouts we did surpassed 70 miles per week for heavy weeks and 40 miles per week on lighter weeks. Medleys of hill workouts, speed drills and balancing distance running with a stable strength program is key, with me hitting the gym two times per day for continuous weeks.
Tirelessly chasing after a goal, and doing your personal best in the process are principles that my miles under my feet have taught me. Along with virtues on how to remain persistent and determined to reach goals, a strong sense of mental toughness develops from long term running. The ability to remain focused on your breath and body form while passing through the 8th mile requires great deal of fortitude. Running means to me a symbol, of people who aren’t afraid to run toward their goals & away from stagnation caused by monotony of life. I am motivated to run by my peers, family, and love of being healthy and fit in my human experience. Running means a great deal in my life that greatly influences my friend group and daily life in a not so good way at times, when I have to do running specific tasks when I otherwise would not. My greatest health & fitness related accomplishment is placing within the top 20 finishers of the (FootLocker) Northeast Regional Cross Country Championship 2017. This accomplishment has motivated me to share more running with those willing to receive this passion way of bringing more life.
June 23rd, 2017 – Always Evolving: Andy Marx
I remember loving to run when I was younger, about 12 or 13 years old. I would run around my neighborhood on Long Island on hot summer nights, barefoot on the freshly paved, smooth streets. I also would time myself in the mile at my local track every now and again. But it wasn’t until I moved to Boston and was surrounded by the running culture that I felt like this is something I can do whenever I want! I was empowered to run and I found a great group of friends who loved to run too.
My Road to Wellness looks like a comprehensive, physical, mental, and spiritual journey that takes on the form of my motivations to find balance. Running can be therapeutic, social and also isolating. Sometimes I run with Meredith and we have a great time connecting. But when I’m training for a marathon, I don’t see her as much as I need to prioritize my schedule. Balancing relationship with work and running can be tricky. Running is an activity that gives me space to go internal, to discover my limits and my potential. I get clear when I run and have time to organize my headspace.
In 2016, I completed 2 out of 3 ultra marathons with Meredith. The two I completed were the Wapack and Back 50 miler and the Fells Winter Classic 40 miler. I had to drop out of the Fuego y Agua 100k in Nicaragua for health reasons, but Meredith was able to finish that race and actually win! I love supporting her in her goals and cheering her as hard as I can.
What motivates me to get out and go run is different most days. Sometimes it’s “I have to do this.” Sometimes it’s “I need to do this.” Sometimes it’s “I want to do this.” For me, running is always evolving.
June 22nd, 2017 – Running to Inspire: Meredith Marx
I began running in middle school because my older sister did it. I didn’t like running and I remember a lot pain and discomfort during my first years of cross country. But I stuck with it and got better over time. In high school running was a way that I fought through a lot of hard stuff that was going on in my life. Reaching the finish line was always a way to remind myself that I can do more than I think I can. I continue to seek that reminder today, which has inspired me to push myself further and further. I have now completed 3 ultramarathons and both Andy and I are hoping to complete a 100 mile race in the fall.
Andy and I lead a running club and we love that it helps people in this city find and create authentic relationships and build community. For me personally, running with a running community/club inspires me to not be too self-focused and inward, and really gets me out of my many moments of introversion. Our running club participates in local races and events so we also see the club as a way to help people get involved locally.
In 2016, I was the first female finisher at the Fuego y Agua 100K. It was my greatest running/health & fitness accomplishment by far because I not only ran further and longer than I have ever run in my life (25 hours) but I also had to push myself mentally across one of the toughest terrains I have ever experienced (including two volcanos, heat and mud) and face fears of solitude and loneliness while running alone in the dark jungle. It was absolutely incredible that I made it to the finish line and when I did, I felt like if I could do this, anyone could do anything.
Adding running into your daily routine does take time so when I am training for a long-distance race, I have to adjust my lifestyle to make sure I still have time for friends and family. When Andy and I train together we benefit from a lot of time together but when we are training for different things or one of us is injured (I am injured now sadly), it can be tough.
I enjoy using running to inspire friends and family–they sometimes think I am crazy for running so much but my hope is that they feel encouraged and empowered to reach their own finish-lines in life.
My Road to Wellness looks like taking the first step. There’s always improvements we can make in our lives and the road to wellness starts with choosing to make one small change, one small step. Over time lots of small changes lead to big change. Running for me is putting one foot in front of the other — it’s pushing forward even when life is pulling you back. Once you make the small change, make sure you stick with it and make it a routine or habit in your life.
June 9th, 2017 – Push Yourself Through It: Ellen Barnett
It wasn’t until I was about 23 years old that I discovered running. Until then, I’d never actually put any thought into exercise as a part of my life. Having had some physical challenges in my youth, exercise beyond the work of everyday simply didn’t exist. Running, when I found it, changed the way I looked at my life.
Now, 30 years on, I look back and realize that running has been the through line that has taken me from youth to – well, not youth. It has been the catalyst to some of my best ideas (I am an idea generator by trade), offered me mountains to overcome (marathons) and traveled with me around the world (literally).
The Road to Wellness run is now the only kind of race I want to run. One that brings together people of all shapes and sizes to walk, sprint or run like me (slowly) and share in a great time together when it’s done. It’s a challenge, but one we’re all in together, which makes it fun.
I’ll finish by saying that even after 30 years of running, motivation is something I have to actively look for. It’s never easy to train when time is pressed, or I’m feeling the effects of injury or over-indulgence. But I push myself through it, knowing that there’s never been a run I’ve regretted.
And that’s why I run.
August 5th, 2016- What makes you feel alive?: Wander Cedano
For Wander Cedano, the gym is a place of tranquility, serenity, meditation and a place to calmly unleash his inner drive with focused determination. It also allows him to clear his mind and start the day before most people have opened their eyelids.
For his entire life, Wander has been involved in sports like basketball, baseball, and other physical activities that riled up his competitive juices. While in college, Wander started focusing his attention on exercising outside of sports: frequenting the weight room which subsequently led to learning more about kinesiology, with a specific focus on muscle strength and conditioning.
Fitness, nutrition, and wellness are incredibly important pieces of Wander’s life, and the gym allows him to reach a level of focus and mental clarity needed to recharge his mind, body, and soul. Aside from his daily workout routine, Wander helps to write gym plans and draft meal plans for his friends and coworkers.
Wander’s long term goal is to help children and young adults build self awareness through fitness and wellness. Currently, Wander serves as a volunteer with Reimagine Play, an organization that provides fun, play inspired fitness and obstacle training experiences for young children and teens throughout Boston.
To Wander, “wellness” means striving for your top physical and mental capacity, and though wellness takes on many
forms, he believes it should allow the person to feel ALIVE and EXCITED.
By day, Wander Cedano is a Certified Public Accountant and works for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston as a Senior
July 29th, 2016- Breathing Life into Music: Jenny Chu
*Cue the music*
Each note is different, each with its own texture, each makes its own contribution to the piece. A dancer is expected to breathe movement and life into each one of these notes. Just as the music fills the room, it breathes life into the dancer, giving them the opportunity to lose themselves in the music. As soon as the music comes on Jenny Chu can forget about any stress she has, she can focus solely on executing each move of her routine, each of them portraying a different emotion or character.
A dancer needs to have incredible body awareness and control. As a child Jenny grew up playing sports which also had this body awareness component. In sports like diving or squash the athlete has to have incredible body awareness so they are able to properly execute their dive or match. Now her concept of body awareness is a little bit different, it’s not only knowing where her body is in space or in relation to things but now she has to be able to transition from hard to soft or fast to slow moves. As a dancer she says this is her biggest challenge.
In addition to the stress relief she gets from dancing she uses her other training (running and weightlifting) as a chance for her to reflect. She says one of her motivations that pushes her to continue to workout is the opportunity to get strong. She can already squat and deadlift more than some of the men in the gym and she’s excited to keep progressing.
As a medical provider she knows the importance of daily exercise and as a person she knows how much more influential it is if individuals practice what they preach. She is committed to honor the advice she give each one of her patients within the Dimock community on the importance of daily exercise.
July 22nd, 2016– Monkey Bar guru turned Urban Fitness Sauvant: Betty Francisco
Puerto Rico and New York City both offer incredible tourist opportunities but aren’t known for their residential fitness experiences. Growing up in these areas, Betty Francisco didn’t have any overwhelming opportunities for organized sports. Instead, she became a pro at the monkey bars and played with her friends growing up. Once high school started, Betty avoided P.E. classes like the plague. She knew she wasn’t any good at the usual team sports like soccer or flag football. Following college her brother gave her a Reebok Step, which she started using with at home workout videos and ended up learning most of the step routines. She had seen gyms as places where people who knew what they were doing went. With her built up confidence from her at home fitness experiences, she ventured out and joined a gym and a yoga studio. After some experience in the world of law she joined on as a member of the executive board and General Counsel for Sports Club/LA in Boston and Reebok Sports Club/NY. There, she advised on how to grow these companies into some of the country’s premier health clubs. She became involved in these clubs, cultivating them and bringing the vision of fitness into many people’s lives. Some of her biggest fitness successes happened during this time, such as learning to swim!
Today, Betty is Founder and CEO of Reimagine Play, an organization that provides fun, play-inspired fitness and obstacle training experiences for school-age children and teens throughout Boston. She is so excited to be running The Road to Wellness Kids’ Fun Run event for the second year in a row. Their signature program, On the MOVE, gives children an option for fitness outside of traditional competitive sports. Most recently, they were announced as a finalist for Kaboom!’s play everywhere challenge aiming to create safe places to play with low income communities. They hope to put these pop-ups into Roxbury, Mattapan and Dorchester to start.
Wellness means something different to every person. For some it starts when they are a child and for others it starts much later on in life. For Betty, it started shortly after college and has continued since. She knows her commitment to her health is now reflected in every facet of her life. The healthier she is, the better she can be as a leader, mother, friend and person.
July 15th, 2016- 26.2 Miles for Hope: Isioma Chukwu
26.2 miles for hope. To Isioma Chukwu that’s what it boiled down to when she was running the Boston Marathon in 2016 for The Dimock Center. She sees the Dimock Center as a place of hope offering incredible childcare and nationally recognized health care for its patients, most of whom would not be able to afford it otherwise. In addition, it gives hope to those recovering from substance abuse by providing the resources to help them get sober.
Even though she only got to train for a very short three and a half months she said she was able to explore so many different areas in her neighborhood. With each training session she was able to run to the soundtrack of her footfalls while exploring beautiful sunrises, lakes, woods, and running trails near her home. Since her debut marathon, she taken a bit of a break but she’s excited to get back to running and training (we hope for her second marathon)!
Running to her is more than an escape; it’s a vehicle of health. When she’s running, all of her numbers, her glucose level, cholesterol, and resting heart rate all stay within a healthy range. However, even bigger than that is her family. When she’s continuing on her road to wellness she knows she is doing everything she can to ensure a long health life to see her children grow up and enjoy old-age with her husband. All of the things that are closest to her heart (both literally and figuratively) she can help by running.
July 8th, 2016- Reluctant Runner earns All American Title at Harvard: Suzanne Jones Walmsley
Picture this, a 13 year old going out for the Cross Country Team, never having run a day in her life. At this point she was going through her chunky stage, you know how kids grow, out then up and the cycle continues late into high school. This particular freshman came into high school with the hope to join the basketball team. Her mom encouraged her to join the cross country team as a way to make friends at her new school and get into shape for the basketball season (once again, we’ll see it’s just another case of mom knows best). The freshman walks on to the team with a lack of hand eye coordination and not able to run any distance, but with an incredible work ethic. Her coach these days shares that if there would have been cuts on the team she would have been cut. Thankfully there weren’t and he was of the opinion that anyone could run, so he encouraged everyone on the team to push their individual limits and test their strength.
Flash forward two years to her junior year and she’s helping her team capture a state title. Another year and she’s doing it once again, finishing her career as a high school athlete.
By the time Suzanne Walmsley hits college she’s a competitive, collegiate runner. She began her college running career at the University of Maryland College Park and transferred to Harvard for her sophomore year. During her first year at Harvard, she was the runner up at NCAA’s and she graduated with five All-American Titles between cross country and the 5K and 10K track events.
During this eight-year stint, Suzanne went from a girl trying to get into shape for basketball, a sport she admits she wasn’t the best at, to an All-American runner and Harvard Hall of Famer. Her career continued after college, stretching all the way up until she had kids in the early 2000’s. After that, she got back into running for the simple joy she gets from it. She knew it would be too intense and time consuming for her to continue as a competitive runner while also raising a family. Now, instead of stressing about making times and fitting in workouts, she runs however much she can fit in. She can stay relaxed and do it as a way to clear her mind in the morning before she goes into work at the Boston Athletic Association.
Her experiences as an athlete have shaped her lifestyle in more ways than one. She has encouraged her kids to stay active in whatever way they choose whether that be in sports or playing outside. As a family they were able to walk with them to school almost every day which has been a great way to get the kids moving in the morning.
In 2013, she surprised everyone, including herself, by competing in the Baystate Marathon. She explains she was filled with a lot of fear and doubt leading up to the marathons. Not only had she never run that distance during her career, but she was coming out of a purely coached experience, always being pushed by someone else. Now she was faced with an opportunity where she had to relearn all of this information for herself. Even as a marathon/road race coach for Boston Athletic Association she say it was a completely new experience to coach yourself through it. With this marathon she qualified for the Boston Marathon, and ran it in 2015.
All in all, she said this experience has given her incredible appreciation for anyone who started running later on in life, they are taking a leap and she admires anyone who is willing to do that.
She says running is a sport where you can put in a little and get so much out of it. Anyone can do it and the feeling you get by accomplishing your goal of crossing the finish line is incredible. She is so excited to see all this year’s participants experience this feeling as they cross the finish line of The Road to Wellness 5K Walk/Run. This is part of the reason she loves this event in Roxbury, it shows an individual what they can accomplish.
Suzanne Walmsley is the Director of Youth and Community engagement at Boston Athletic Association.
July 1st, 2016- Going the Distance: Juan Lopera
Speed. Adrenaline. Competition. Anyone who has suffered from injury or previously competed in high school and collegiate sports leagues knows it’s hard to find that same thrill that one gets from team sports played when growing up. Not many things compare to making that buzzer beater shot or having the ball sail into the top corner of the net from outside the box. While it might be challenging to find this feeling during your regular exercise routine, it’s not impossible. That thrill can be found as long as one is willing to go the distance.
Juan Lopera gets that thrill from cycling more than 200 miles per week. (Just for reference it is 215 miles from The Dimock Center in Roxbury to New York City.) Juan is a competitive cyclist, riding with the 545 Velo Racing Team, which is a Newton-based masters team for people in the 30+ age range. He says cycling isn’t just a way for him to stay in shape, but rather fulfills a passion. He gets to participate in an activity that pushes him to be very aware of his body, what he’s using to fuel it and how it’s performing. In addition, he can participate in a sport that allows him to become part of an incredible community. As Juan puts it, cycling gives him a sense of camaraderie; it allows him to connect with individuals from diverse backgrounds.
Juan competes in 20 races between May and September. Every time he finishes a race, he is filled with an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment. Last year, Juan competed for the first time in the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb, finishing 9th in his age group and 36th overall. He cites this race as his “most awesome racing experience” in 2015 and is looking forward to doing it again (click here to read his reactions from the race)! In the off season, he enjoys cross training (hey, we just wrote about that!) with interval and strength training group fitness classes as well as doing yoga to work on his overall flexibility.
What’s Juan’s advice for anyone new to exercising? Find something that gets you excited, an activity you don’t have to talk yourself into doing every day. That will most likely be different for each person and that’s ok. “People should do what they are passionate about and do it really well.”
Juan Lopera is Vice President of Business Diversity at Tufts Health Plan and member of the Dimock Community Foundation Board
June 24th, 2016- Swimming, biking and running oh my: Katie Leiras
The alarm goes off and Katie Leiras gets out of bed to start her morning. As a Ironman triathlon competitor she spends three mornings a week in the water. As she walks out onto the deck she hears the rhythmic sounds of other swimmers completing their workouts for the day. She sees individuals who are easing their way back into working out or giving their bodies a break from the hard impact of running. She eases down in the chilly water and begins. As she moves through her warm up her mind starts to clear and her body finds its groove. The water now feels like the perfect temperature, every muscle in her body is working to propel her forward, each yard gives her another opportunity to improve her endurance all while doing something she loves.
She trains with a triathlon group, ZoomMultisports which allows her to make contact with others who are training for their own races and talk strategy on how to fuel or their training methods. She uses specific products such as DRINKmaple and Generation UCAN to keep her going during races and long training sessions but knows there are many ways people do it.
During an IronMan race she runs 26.2 miles. She uses 5K then as a way to asses where she is. By measuring her heart rate and maximum threshold she is able to set goals for herself moving forward. The Road to Wellness 5K she says is a little different, while she can do all of these things she can also observe others in their pursuit of wellness and conquering goals they had set for themselves at the beginning of their training plan.
June 17th, 2016- Chasing the Feeling of Clarity: Tony DaRocha
“Your chances of success in any undertaking can always be measured by your belief in yourself.” – Robert Collier
Forty years, four decades dedicated to chasing the feeling of clarity that Tony DaRocha achieves through running. As he puts it, running is an activity he can do anywhere and it requires “minimal equipment.” It now serves as a way for him to relax and while he strives for the perfect exercise week (5 days of long runs) he acknowledges that his work schedule doesn’t always allow for that. As a runner he has continued competing in the B.A.A. 10K and holds an impressive record dating all the way back to college.
As the head coach of Men and Women’s track and Cross Country teams at Emmanuel College and a Physical Education teacher in the Boston Public School, DaRocha is responsible for empowering young individuals to enjoy physical activity as well as enabling them to continue to develop as runners. His coaching philosophy centers around individual athletes who set their own goals and create their own plans to achieve them. He says his athletes know they have to put in the work to achieve their goals and those who have realistic goals are more likely to meet them. As a coach he cultures their love for what they do. He knows that athletes who are physically and emotionally prepared will stay healthy and improve. He also know that individuals who exercise receive all the physical benefits in addition to the positive impact it has on their academic success. Emotional health doesn’t just come from physically performing well, an individual needs to be empowered in all aspects of their life to succeed.
June 10th, 2016- A balancing act: Winique Green
Exercise allows her to balance all of her priorities. By stepping away and focusing on herself she can make sure she can give 100% to each of her obligations. She, like many, knows that starting is the hardest part but she knows that once she gets started she is all in!
Not only does exercise help with her mental health but she also knows it can help her ward off any diseases. She constantly thinks of her multiple family members who have a number of diseases. By exercising she makes sure that she can live a long and healthy life.
Her exercise of choice? Depends on the day. Lately she’s taken to kickboxing because of it’s fast paced nature, she says it’s so much fun and time just flies by when she’s doing it. You can also find her pumping iron on occasion or running outdoors, any activity that makes her push herself!
Winique wants to participate this year because of the community that the Road to Wellness 5K creates. It builds unity and pulls the community into what The Dimock Center is doing. She wants to put together a team this year to make sure she’s doing her part to link The Dimock Center and surrounding Roxbury area.
June 3rd, 2016 – Block by block: Gael Henville
Last Thursday, I decided to run home from work at noon which is peak temperature time for the sun. This was not a pleasant experience as running in the sun is sudden death for me – figuratively of course. I mentioned my plan on my Facebook page and someone asked why not wait until later in the day. Listen, if you wait for that perfect moment; you stand a great chance of not realizing your dreams. If you accept all the surrounding noise instead of creating your own, you may never get ahead. I may be obsessed with running, but am just as powerfully driven in all aspects of my life. To survive a fall marathon, I must embrace this weather. Four miles were schedule, I pushed for five because I said I could and my athlete (your brain is quite powerful) did! The lessons learned during this instance can all be realistically executed to all aspects of your lives.
Since our last clinic, I have been quite busy with racing and coaching. Most of you know that I was in training for the Chicago Marathon last year and am so very pleased to tell you that it was the best race of my life! My experience of a strong finish in a great time was the result of my consistent training and dedication. I share this right you not for bragging rights, but to help you understand that your fitness goal is attainable with commitment.
I only have the capacity to coach a maximum of two clients annually as I am always in training for several of my races at the same time. However, I have physically and virtually coached four this year – all are average Janes and a Joe just like us. They simply wanted to learn how to run to lose weight, become stronger and healthier. One has completed four 5Ks, another successfully completed last week’s Boston Run to Remember ½ Marathon, and my first male client, the 5 miler at the Boston Run to Remember, the other is still on her beginner’s plan and will run her first 5K in the fall. I also spend my “active” rest days walking with a dear friend. She is unable to run, so I strap on a backpack with weights and get my work-out in while maintaining our bond during our weekly walks. Like us, they have families, full-time work and other obligations; I have mine too, but we make it work. There is always a way!
As you countdown the days to our first run clinic, consider your reasons for this journey. Envision your body as the house of your dreams that you are building from scratch, now, build it block-by-block. The run clinics will serve as your foundation for your new home, however, be mindful of the materials used for building when we are apart as they will determine the success of your “project”.
September 4, 2015 – Ruben Sanca
From ‘Sick Kid’ to Olympian
Ruben Sanca was born in Cape Verde and came to US in 1999 when he was 12 years old. While in his pre-teen years, being a runner never really crossed his mind. He loved the sport of soccer and dreamed of one day playing the World Cup. As a young child, he had several asthma attacks and was known in the family as the “sick kid” who always had some health issues. He was prescribed inhalers but never used them because he was afraid of becoming dependent on them. Ruben suffered a lot in his early years and albuterol syrup was often his only remedy.
Everything changed when Ruben came to the US. He found out my asthma attacks were related to a lot of the dust allergies in Cape Verde. When he was at the Dearborn Middle School, he was recruited by my middle school teacher to run track. He was one of the slowest guys on the team, as he still suffered from asthma. Once he made it to the John D. O’Bryant High School, his primary care physician mentioned that his asthma was becoming non-existent. During that time, Ruben noticed a rapid improvement in his breathing and eventually his running.
Years later, Ruben found himself competing at the high school national track and field championships and the NCAA collegiate national championships. He returned to Cape Verde to win several track and road racing national championships. In 2011, he represented Cape Verde at the World Championships in South Korea, and in 2012 at the Olympic Games in England.
Ruben currently balances his running with his full-time job as a business manager in the division of student affairs at his alma mater, UMass Lowell. He plans to qualify for the Olympic Games again for 2016!
August 7, 2015 – Hector Cruz Regional VP for Winn Residential
Hector’s story is an interesting one. He never thought about or even imagined himself running. “One day, August of 2007 my wife came home and said we’re joining the gym,” he explained. Reluctantly, he agreed and then his journey began. At first he walked on the treadmill. That was boring so he began to jog on the treadmill. A little better, but still boring, so he moved to the indoor track. Finally, after a few weeks he decided to run a 5k, and immediately he was hooked. In the years since that first race, Hector has run more than 100 5ks, and more than 20 half and full marathons. In fact, he now act as a “pacer” for new runners. “I’m happy to say I often pace with some of my children and occasionally my wife, but that’s only if there’s some sort of shopping involved before or after the race,” he said.
“Running for me, is my lifeline. It allows me to tune everything else out and focus on my own heartbeat. It’s amazing when you have a job and lifestyle as hectic as I do ( I’m a father of 6 and grandfather of 1) to be able to find that place to go to and reset your clock. It makes me a better person around my family, and a much more productive and clear thinker at work. I’ve also been able to lose and keep off 35-40 lbs without dieting!”
What’s his advice for new runners… “don’t give up on yourself. Let your body show you what it can accomplish. Pace yourself and you’ll get there. We’re all beginners at some point.”
July 31, 2015 – Mike Masse
Yoga Guru: Mike Masse is a strange butterfly whom has emerged from a cocoon of sorts. Mike was born, bred, survived, and still resides in the Roxbury section of Boston, MA. In order to dodge the influx of drugs, crime, and violence that plagued his neighborhood as a child, Mike found his spirit of focus and leadership through the sport of football when he was 10 years old.
After leading the city of Boston in almost every statistical category possible; both on the football field and in the classroom. Mike went on to earn a scholarship to play college football. After graduating college Mike still had the urge to play football as it was a “coping skill” of sorts to him, for many years.
In 2008, while playing semi-professional football with the Boston Bandits, Mike fractured his arm in a tragic on the field accident. The injury hurt Mike more mentally and emotionally than anything else. The injury forced him away from something he loved: football.
After surgery to repair the arm, Mike had to discover a new way to strengthen his body and spirit. With no option of pumping iron or returning to the field (just yet), Mike’s wife: Taheera, started “attempting” to do yoga as she watched Steve Ross teach on the O network each morning before she left for work. The strange thing was, Taheera did every posture wrong and unsafe, she fouled up each morning just enough that Mike felt compelled to get up and help “demonstrate” what Steve Ross was teaching on the TV set.
A week later Mike realized Taheera had a plan, because he was now doing yoga alone and she had returned to doing her everyday hustle.
At that point the asanas and pranayama were enough. It healed Mike, contrary to what 4 out of 5 doctors assumed. Mike soon returned to the field playing with the Boston Bandits in 2010.
A few years later the murder of his close friend and teammate: Odin Lloyd, made Mike dive deep into some soul searching. Miraculously Taheera had Mike’s back once again.
Taheera suggested that Mike look into a teacher training at South Boston Yoga. A coworker from Taheera’s job had taken the same training and spoke highly of it.
After researching the program and scraping up the money to pay for it. Mike studied with David Vendetti and Todd Skoglund (owners of South Boston Yoga). After David and Todd were finished with Mike he emerged stronger, healed from his emotional upbringing and morphed into a Rock Star yoga guru.
It’s is now that Mike understands why he had to see the lowest of lows growing up – how and where he grew up. Also Mike sees the paradox from experiencing the highest of highs through – graduating at the top of his class, marriage, child birth/parenting, and rocking out teaching yoga, whenever and where ever he can.
Helping others by teaching yoga is the highest of them all though. Mike dedicates his practices to all of the friends and family he has seen devoured by the streets and poor choices.
All of this combines to create an awesome Yoga Experience for you all to apply to yourselves and enjoy life even more.
July 24, 2015 – Marisol Rivera
Marisol works in The Dimock Health Center, and has tried many diets but ultimately realized she is a food lover like most of us. She works hard on adapting a lifestyle where she eats her food in moderation but also increases her workout routine. She starts by waking up at the crack of dawn and mixing in a 45 minute workout on the elliptical. Marisol says this is “a way to start my day with a fresh burst of energy. After I get out of work, I have an even longer workout, mixing up my exercises to avoid it being repetitive and becoming tedious”. Every time she loses five pounds she will reward herself with buying something new. “I am aware of the fact that people with little kids may not have the time or energy to exercise, but even so you must try to fit some workout plan into your tight schedule. You owe it to your family to live a long, healthy life.”
July 17, 2015 – Aggie Rieger
I grew up with unhealthy foods and habits. The result was general lethargy, illness and, in my immediate family, premature death. I started jogging in high school after my dad passed away from a heart attack – most likely a result of not always taking the best care of himself. When I began college, I wanted to be adventurous and do ridiculous things I never thought I’d do. For me, that meant doing a push-up. I became an athlete! I found an incredible support system! I began to think of my body as cool and worthwhile! Today, being active means being adventurous, having fun, finding connections, and loving myself and my body. At the end of the day, being active also means respecting my dad’s memory
Many years later, no matter the life/work challenges, I have kept my promise to myself years ago to maintain my life-time of a healthy lifestyle. Being healthy lessens the chance of diseases that are so common in our communities. More energy, self-confidence, self-empowerment, accountability, a return on your investment due to the need of less or no medication, the longevity to live out your dreams are proven facts of your wellness transformation. As you become fitter, so does your self-esteem which can become quite infectious. Success is many small steps leading up to your overall goal and I ask you to please join me in making that first step. The courage to start, the strength to endure, the resolve to continue!
June 19, 2015 – Tom Morris
Dimock Director of Development Disabilities Services, ran the Boston Marathon on April 20, 2015, finishing in 3 hours and 36 minutes. He started running a year after his late wife Deb passed away, July 12, 2008. Tom said, “One morning I woke up and said to myself, “You know, you could run.” I tried. I couldn’t make it one mile. I liked it though, especially being outdoors. I kept running and ran my first marathon in October, 2011. My time qualified me for The Boston Marathon, which I ran in 2013. “I was not a runner when Deb was alive, but I believe she’s cheering me on now from her eternal vantage point”. He made it to the finish line before the Boston bombing. Tom ran the Boston Marathon last year and in September 2014, he ran the Berlin Germany Marathon.