The Y in Central Maryland Blog

Monday Mission Update

In a previous Monday Mission Update, I featured the Pedaling for Parkinson’s program that we originated in our Dancel Y in Ellicott City.  I’d like to return to that program again, if I might, to highlight one particular Y member’s progress.

Katie Gandy, Group Exercise Coordinator at the Dancel Y, tells the story very well in this email she sent to several of us:

I couldn’t let today pass without sharing a magnificent moment that was 144 days in the making. Ms. Mary joined our program on its first day, February 19th, 2018. When she first arrived, she was using a walker and had to rest halfway between the elevator doors and the entrance to the cycle studio, maybe 60 feet apart. She had visible lower body weakness and her right side muscle tone was worse than her left.

Mary is one of our riders who has a relatively recent Parkinson’s disease (PD) diagnosis. She’s struggled with the physical symptoms for a few years beforehand, but they largely went untreated because Mary has also fought and conquered breast cancer. Twice. The diagnosis of PD left Mary and her husband struggling a bit. Anyone who knows Mary knows her as a beacon of positivity. She’s sharp witted, well-read, loves music and was a true “flower child” in the 60’s and 70’s. The diagnosis of PD hit Mary hard and she often retreated to the home she shares with her husband Jon, her safe place to feel sad and scared about living with Parkinson’s.

Mary was referred to our Pedaling for Parkinson’s program by Lynda Banfer, a Y member and indoor cycling regular, when she ran into Mary while treating one of her Physical Therapy patients who lives in Mary’s building. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Mary started our program on 2/19/2018 on a recumbent bike, with her feet zip tied to the bike because her legs were so weak her feet kept slipping out of the pedal straps. She couldn’t go above 50 rpms ever on the recumbent bike. And today, Friday, July 13th, Ms. Mary was able to ride independently on one of our stationary spin studio bikes for more than 20 minutes. No tremors. No balance issues. And she was able to pedal 74 rpm, all while staying in her target heart rate zone.  On her very first try on the upright bike. Amazing!!

She and I both (along with some fellow participants who wish to remain anonymous) cried tears of joy and pride today. Since our program began, I kept saying to John Derwent (Senior Program Director) that my goal is to get Mary up on that Keiser bike. She can do it. And he agreed and supported her every step of the way. And today both John and I got to witness Mary’s accomplishment. Not a dry eye in the house.

So whatever else did or didn’t happen this week, you all played a part in this accomplishment. This magnificent moment that gave us all the positivity and hope we could handle.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Take care,


This is the type of story that is only possible when an organization, its associates and volunteers are 100% committed to the health and well-being of its community. I am so thankful to Katie, John and the entire team at the Dancel Y, as well as all our fantastic folks across the region who work hard every day to help Y members and participants like Ms. Mary achieve their fullest potential.

All the best,


John K. Hoey
President & CEO
The Y in Central Maryland


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