The Y in Central Maryland Blog

Stories of Courage and Change: The Unstoppable (G.I.) Joe

One of the first things you notice about Joe is that the man isn’t afraid of a challenge. Whether it be taking part in the Y Turkey Trot Charity 5K or braving the Escape from Alcatraz run (that’s a thing!), this real Joe would definitely give the mythical GI-Joe a run for his money!

Five years ago however, things looked a little different. After suffering a traumatic amputation of his left leg, Joe was struggling to find “his new normal.”

Joe taking on the Marine Corps Marathon, one of the largest marathons in the US and the world.

“I was trying to figure out life, but it didn’t make sense anymore. I just couldn’t do any of the things I used to do,” says Joe.

His wife, Stacey, suggested that instead of being cooped up at home all day, he should spend his time at the Dancel Y in Ellicott City. Despite this new routine, Joe didn’t want to engage with others.

“I would turn my music on before I reached the door and keep my head down,” says Joe.

It wasn’t long before Jessica Monaghan, the Senior Director of Community Engagement, caught wind of what was happening and began to work with Joe to build his strength – mentally, spiritually and physically.

The approach made a difference. Between lifting weights, swimming and a bit of what Joe calls “much-needed tough love” from his Y trainers, he slowly started to heal.

Joe believes that he couldn’t have made that progress without the Y.

 “When you compete in events on one leg, it’s a decent size accomplishment. But you can’t do anything without people being in your corner. I’ve been lucky. Sometimes it’s just grace.” says Joe.

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