New York Mills, N.Y. - Jenna LaLonde, the only survivor of triplets with cerebral palsy who has gone on to exceed expectations.
In the fall of 2020, she suffered another life changing set back. But due to help from the Kelberman Center and a Prince named Eric, she is making one mighty comeback.
There is no stopping Jenna LaLonde.
Fast forward to August and October of 2020, Jenna would go on to have bilateral Achilles tendons surgery which left her unable to walk for months. Thanks to a partnership with the Kelberman Center and the Fitness Mill she is back on her feet.
The program is called ‘Fitness 4 All’.
“I think it was September (2020) the Kelberman Center gave me call saying they have a grant opportunity,” said Eric DeCarlis, Special Needs Fitness Director at the Fitness Mill. “We came up with Fitness 4 All which is actually an exercise program for the entire family so I run the programs with the kids but the parents can come utilize the gym and all of our classes through the grant. It’s a beautiful partnership.”
Jenna attends sessions three times a week. This program is for all ages and ability levels. There's typically about six to twelve kids per class.
“We're working on getting her to walk straight again and as you can see on the balance beam she is kicking butt over there so she's been doing great,” said Rene Zeun, Jenna’s mother. “Since she started this a month ago she is losing weight, she's got a group of peers that she's hanging out with, and she’s motivated.”
Fitness 4 All's mission is to help the kids have fun while working out so they can achieve anything.
“Some success is just walking a lap around the track that we have here and then on the other end I have a client that is going to the World Games in Russia 2022 for team USA Special Olympics. So in the middle of there is everyone and they come and they have a good time,” said DeCarlis. “We do a lot of work with core stability because most usually lack in that area. We make it fun for them to enjoy so they keep coming back.
Jenna, the only girl in her class, enjoys it so much, that she even gave her physical trainer a nickname.
“I love Prince Eric,” said LaLonde.
“Why do you love Prince Eric? Why do you call him Prince Eric?” Zeun asked.
“Because he's from the Little Mermaid,” said LaLonde.
“He calls you Ariel,” said Zeun.
“He calls me Ariel,” said LaLonde.
“He's just been instrumental in everything with them,” said Zeun. “I mean, you can see just looking at him - his interaction with the kids - they adore him. We really are appreciative of the Kelberman Center because they made the funding possible. A lot of times people forget about the special needs community and this is such an important, important job.”
This is a part-time job for DeCarlis who is also a Senior Rec Therapist at Central New York Psychiatric Center. He says he does it because he loves it.
“I’ve been working with special needs for about 15 years. I’ve worked with Upstate Cerebral Palsy, I’ve also been a certified personal trainer for over a decade. There’s such a demand for it and such a lack of fulfillment that we’ve been extremely blessed to be so successful and we’re going to continue to grow and implement programs with a new gym coming called ‘Live It’ downtown in June. Our little mantra is better every day and that's what we say and it's fantastic,” said DeCarlis.
Get better every day.
For more information on Fitness 4 All, visit fitnessmillny.com.