Participant Spotlight: Eric’s 5k Run/Walk

In December, we highlighted Eric and the progress he has made the past three years (if you missed his story, you can read it here).  One month later, Eric continues to shock, inspire and motivate us.

As most of you know, Eric has been a participant in A Healthy Billion’s walking challenge.  He has participated in a number of 5k’s the last year but has always kept to walking.  The only time we would see Eric run is out of class on Tuesday and Thursdays at FITbuddies!  This past Sunday, Eric and his Dad participated in the Super Guadalupe River Run.  Below is a description of the race from Eric’s Dad:

“Eric took part in the Super Guadalupe River Run this morning and Eric did the 5k walk in 54 minutes; which about half the distance Eric ran. Right from the start he took off running and ran almost to the first mile marker. Eric also ran most of the last mile to the finish line, where the crowd cheered him on. Eric walk/ran most of the race by himself (he was a good 100 yards ahead of me most of the time). When we met at the finish line he was so happy and kept saying “I won, I won”.”


Congratulations Eric and we look forward to many more 5k Run/Walks!!


Pick Your Battle…

-A breakdown or an unhealthy snack

-A full-blown tantrum in a restaurant or french fries, milkshakes, etc. etc.

-A quiet family dinner turned upside down or enough food consumed in one sitting to last for a week.

The food battle is a battle almost every parent has to tackle at some point along the line but for a parent of individuals with intellectual disabilities it can be a HUGE battle; a battle much bigger than just “you’re not leaving the table until you finish your green beans!”  Or for some parents of both special and ‘typical’ children, it’s not a battle at all because the parents choose not to pick that battle.

Working in the homes of individuals with Autism, I’ve seen a lot.  I’ve seen some very messy situations: houses torn upside down, sibling fights that no one would want to witness and parents breaking down after a feeling of complete helplessness. Would you really care who ate what at that point?  I doubt it.

It’s a vicious cycle.  It’s a cycle we can all relate to to some extent.  You get used to eating cookies, pastries, ice cream and donuts and you’re body begins to tell you that you NEED those items.  You begin to have craving after craving that you can’t seem to control.  The foods that cause us to feel the worst are usually the foods we crave the most…that is, until we stop eating them for a prolonged period of time.  Now try to communicate that concept to a child, a child who does not verbally communicate.

The battles then become vicious cycles.  You don’t get to pick anymore.  You WILL have a tantrum until the snickers is handed over.  The snickers (or whatever the food of choice may be) becomes a daily battle.

It’s not easy.  In fact, it’s very difficult.  Over the course of the next few weeks when I talk about NUTRITION, I’ll explain how a few of our Buddies have made changes.  It was a process.  It took time (a LONG time) but it’s possible.

I hope to help others tackle the NUTRITION battle because it is one well worth fighting and one that may change some of your other other battles and child’s behaviors permanently.

Buddies In ACTION wants to help improve the NUTRITION battle.

Mr. Independent

I would say there are two things that every parent hopes for their child:  good health and independence.  Of course, many parents have many other “plans” and hopes as well but I think it is safe to say these two are fairly consistent across the parenting board.  For a parent of an individual with special needs, it can be overwhelming and daunting to know what this may mean for not only your child but your own future.

Sometimes as a parent or caregiver, you have to take a step back.  Instead of always looking at the BIG picture or for BIG opportunities, look at how the small stuff can make BIG changes or a BIG impact.  That is exactly what the Teter family has done for Jeremy and the changes he has made are anything but SMALL.

Jeremy is 25 years old and is now working at Starbucks, cooking his own breakfast and other meals, working out with FITBuddies 2X/week (he has lost 25 pounds since he started due to both diet and exercise), going to the College of Adaptive Arts, and in the last year, learned how to ride a bike.  You can tell by the way Jeremy walks that his confidence is soaring and he truly has a feeling of independence. As he says, “I’m a grown man, doing man things!”

Of course there are still other things on his list, but overall, Jeremy feels as though he is “living the life.” HUGE opportunities did not come pounding on the Teter family’s door and these changes did not happen over night.  It was a process,  a process of small steps that led to a few more doors opening followed by huge progress and change.

This is part of what the monthly happy hours I am currently organizing are all about.  Sure, it’s a fundraiser but it’s much more than that.  There’s not a person who meets any of my FITBuddies’ participants who doesn’t enjoy getting to know them or love hanging out with them (or at least they all tell me that:); yet, there are far and few between (if any) who are calling these special individuals to hang out on a weekend (or weekday) night.  Yes, there are more and more ‘social’ programs for individuals with special needs but trust me, they can tell the difference between being treated as ‘special’ individuals and being treated just like everyone else.

It is simply a happy hour.  It is not a huge opportunity, but it is something small that can create a big feeling: a feeling of increased independence and inclusion.  Thank you to all who came to the first one and we hope many of you will join us in the future!

A few words from Jeremy, Mr. Independent, the Monday after he came up to the city for Happy Hour:

“Jen, that was the best city night ever.  I really think I could get use to nights out like that.  Do you think we could do that again?”

A few words from Jeremy’s parents (Bill and Mary Lynn Teter) regarding Jeremy’s night out:

Jen, the ‘attitude’ that ‘the’ Jeremy came home with that evening was priceless!
“I’m accepted”, “I have friends”, “They like me”, “I’m just a regular guy.”
Jeremy showed enough self-esteem for any six guys.  We can’t thank you
enough!  You provide a lot of ‘somethings’ for these young people that the
parents just can’t give.

Buddies In ACTION is not just about exercise and health; it’s about creating OPPORTUNITIES that increase INDEPENDENCE and INCLUSION.

December News

October and November were very busy months for FITBuddies and as the program continues to grow, once again I have to say THANKS for all your help and support.  Almost all of our growth has come from you:  it has been from trainers telling their clients more about the program, parents of our current FITBuddies’ participants talking to other parents, and random encounters/emails from friends of friends of friends.  So thank you and keep on talking!  For now, here are a few updates:

FITBuddies @ FIT:  We have a few new participants looking to start in January.  The younger group (ages 8-11) will be starting 2 full hour sessions in January as well.  I can’t thank my volunteers enough as they have been an integral part of making the younger group work.  Each kid really needs 1/1 attention in order for things to run smoothly and everyone to stay safe

Parent’s Meeting:  December 15th @ 7pm at FIT in Los Altos.  FITBuddies is partnering with the College of Adaptive Arts and hosting a meeting for parents of individuals with intellectual disabilities.  The purpose of the meeting is for parents to voice different programs they would like to see available for their kids/young adults.  Please email for more information.

New School Program! I have started working at the Creative Learning Center in Los Altos providing small group sessions during school hours to both preschool and elementary age students.  The school runs a very unique program for kids on the autism spectrum and is a great facility with a very dedicated staff.  I am looking forward to working with both the staff and the kids and already have lots of new special friends.

FITBuddies in SF: Diakadi Body , located at 9th and Division in San Francisco has agreed to support the FITBuddies program for teens/young adults in the afternoons on Wednesday and Fridays.  The goal is to have our first group start in January.  Email for more information.

IHRSA 2011: I will be presenting at IHRSA 2011 on March 16th.  Thom and I have already started preparing, meeting with doctors and other professionals in the field and sorting through research relevant to training individuals with special needs.  This has led to many great connections and has also expanded my goals moving forward.  Most importantly, I am excited that IHRSA accepted a topic new to the majority of trainers and gym owners.

December Topic:  Last month, I talked about the “Good, Bad & the Ugly” of FITBuddies and why I really am thankful for each aspect of FITBuddies.  The “good” keeps me smiling, laughing and absolutely loving what I do and the “Bad” & “Ugly” challenge me and help me continue to learn and grow.  For the month of December I will talk about traditions.  Although I am a sucker for family and holiday traditions and could rattle off a TON of my favorite traditions that I look forward to every year, I am going to talk about our weekly traditions at FITBuddies.  Repetition is very important to individuals with special needs and therefore it is very important to set up certain aspects of the program that never change and are passed down and carried on by every new participant, every session, every year…

Story #7

Have I mentioned that I love telling the GOOD stories?

Story #7

It all started with “Speed and Demon” compling the Best Buddies Ride in 2009.  Rob, a trainer at FIT, had offered to ride tandem with Jeremy.  Jeremy was 24 at the time and had never been on a bike.  After he crossed the finish line, he announced that he wanted to ride all by himself next year…

And so he did.  Rob and I started working with him over the summer.  It was probably the hardest, most frustrating experience for everyone involved yet by far the most rewarding.  I am so THANKFUL I had Rob helping me as he was a vital part in the teaching process and am grateful for every hour he gave up of his free time.  I’ll also never forget the first time Jeremy took off for the first time on his own or the first time the three of us rode off together from FIT.  It was priceless and at that point, Rob and I both talked about how it didn’t matter if Jeremy ever rode further than the loop we did together that day as Jeremy was officially on cloud nine.  I’ve seem his confidence soar over the last few years but had never seen him like this before.

There were so many GOOD moments, GOOD conversations and GREAT accomplishments that occurred during those 4 months and I am Thankful for the experience and every minute of  the Good, Bad & Ugly that we had in the process…

To see his video: