Step’s Journey

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Big guy says to the other big guy…

I’m a big guy.  I stand 6’4” and weigh anywhere from 285 to 305 lbs depending on what I ate that day.  My life’s drive at this junction starts as a ‘GymRat’ at 8AM, 5 days per week at the Anytime Fitness in the North Valleys of Reno, Nevada.  I couldn’t tell you the difference from a pull-up and a chin-up, but I’m a firm believer in getting up and going because just like everything else in life, things miraculously just come together.

I sit on the board for a local Reno non-profit called Note-Ables Music Therapy Services.  Years ago when first starting Make Your Momentum, I found the NMTS and asked to be involved.  I love kids, I love Reno, I love music.  I love that the NMTS takes all the things I love and brings them together for those living with disabilities.

Being on a non-profit board, you have to be involved.  This sometimes means being on the other side of town on a Monday morning at 7:30AM for a fundraising breakfast event.  The important thing about the breakfast is that it introduced NMTS to an array of potential new volunteers, donors and believers to music therapy.  In short, I was very happy to attend to support and spread the NMTS gospel.  During this event, I saw NMTS patron Stephon at the front table with his mom.
I knew this was the perfect moment to get something off of my chest.

A little background…

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Stephon ‘Step’ Joseph VanDyke Jr. was born in Ogden, Utah on March 8th, 1989.  Step was born with autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder which affects one in 68 kids today.  When Step was 14, he suffered severe damage to the frontal lobe, left and right parietal and occipital parts of his brain through a football injury.  This injury only worsened his learning disabilities.  Step graduated from Reed High School in 2007 and now lives in a group home in downtown Reno.  Step is currently 26 years old and weighs 440 lbs.  His primary care physician says if things don’t change immediately, Step might not make it to his 30th birthday.

I personally know Step, he is by far the kindest young man I’ve ever come across.  He attends the NMTS three days per week; participating in dance, singing and drum therapy classes.  When we asked Step why he loves the Note-Ables, he said “The Note-Ables bring out the GOLD in me!”  Step doesn’t consider himself to be disabled.  In fact, his passion is to give back to those with disabilities by teaching kids with Down syndrome how to bowl on Tuesday mornings through the Center of Independent Living.  His right now goal is to learn sign language in order to better assist his friends living with disabilities.

Back to the story…

I introduced myself to Stephon’s mom, Barbara, and asked if I could speak to her son openly about his weight.  She gave me the green-light.  I turned to Stephon and said, ‘we need to get in shape big boy!’ I knew this would resonate and inspire rather than deflate, especially coming from another ‘big boy’ himself.  He gave me a big smile.  I haven’t seen such a genuine smile in a very long time.  I haven’t heard such a soft voice sound so convicting when he said ‘YES!’.  Truth is, he didn’t have to say anything because his eyes said it all.  I’m convinced Stephon’s been waiting for some big boy to come along and ask him this whole time.

I knew we had a new project, another person committed to living the MYM mantra of ‘Dreaming Big’ and ‘Pushing Hard!’  The only thing left to do was coordinate the steps for Stephon to make his momentum and take back his health.

Meet the crew…

I’m grateful to know some pretty astonishing people in all facets of life.  This particular group of people happen to be an isolated team that operate out of the Anytime Fitness in the North Valleys (Reno NV).

My good friend Mandi Monticelli herself is on a journey to reclaim her health.  I see this girl at the gym everyday rockin’ that Desire+Drive doing that whole pick up the rope, slam down the rope routine.  Atta girl, Mandi!  I’m proud of this girl, she’s dedicated.  So dedicated that she now mentors her own support group of folks Saturday mornings at Anytime Fitness.  MENTOR (Check!)

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There’s also this powerhouse couple I know named the Borden’s.  Without question the most giving and kind-hearted people I know.  I was telling Brandon about our upcoming project to get Stephon in shape and he gave Step a free membership to Anytime Fitness, on the spot, no questions asked.  We’re extremely grateful Borden family, thank you!  GYM MEMBERSHIP (Check!)

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Since going to Anytime Fitness for quite some time now, I’ve got to know the training staff on personal level.  Matter of fact, you can find pictures of these friends all over the Make Your Momentum webpage.  We talk about everything in the morning; from Ben Roethlisberger to obsessions with peanut butter, this team of trained professionals is a one-stop-shop for a dietary plan to workout regime.  I’ve asked my friends Justin Cutler, Rachel Koester and Troy Horner to be a part of this young man’s journey.  TRAINERS (Check!)

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The gameplan…

Here at MYM, we don’t have a lot of free capital.  Truth is, we spend a lot of time and money actually getting our brand’s message out into the universe in hopes of impacting lives to move in a more positive direction.  That doesn’t stop us from wanting to get involved.

Think about this for a moment; the universe actually encourages us to make momentum.  As gravity holds us grounded, the effort we put forth to even take a step forward is momentum.  By simply walking, we are making our own momentum.  It’s only fitting that we got involved with a young man named Step to take the appropriate steps forward to make his momentum, right?  Right!

We’ve made a custom Anytime Fitness branded MYM Performance Shirt called “The Step” to help our young friend through his life-long journey.  100% of the proceeds will go back to local Reno, local trainers, local Anytime Fitness to keep Step’s regime alive.  We’re not looking for a handout.  We simply ask that if you’re in need of an amazing performance shirt you can bleed, sweat and cry in, we have exactly what you’re looking for.  Knowing the profits are changing lives is simply the bonus.

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Hoping you’re MYM’n 24/7,
Big Chuck
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