Thursday, June 28, 2018

I Am Iron Woman!

The IRONMAN triathlon consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile run. “No way” is a common response when talking about this race. Or, “why?” Why put your body through that for 15 straight hours, let alone all the training leading up to it? These are valid questions given the toll it takes on the body. Heather Forsyth, Imagine! employee of the Early Intervention department, has a valid answer.

“When I turned 40, I was not in good health. I was not eating well and exhausted all the time,” said
Heather. “I thought about my daughter, who has a developmental disability and was in high school at the time, and realized I needed to take better care of myself so I can be around to take care of her.” Heather started going to the gym and joined local exercise groups. She raced her first triathlon (sprint) in 2010. “It rekindled my love for running and being outside.” She kept it going and joined another fitness group in Boulder, whose members participated in longer races, and found herself doing the same: half marathons, marathons, and then the half Ironman.

“Then I said to myself, ‘you know what?’ Yeah, I want to do an Ironman.’”

She completed her first Ironman in summer of 2015. “It was my dream race and everything went as planned. I finished and was smiling ear to ear the entire time.”

Heather’s next two Ironmans did not have the same fairytale storyline. In 2016, she was injured during the swim, accidentally kicked by another swimmer, which made for a painful race. “I barely finished.”

In 2018, training season became tough as Heather’s life turned upside down. Her mother was back and forth in the hospital over the course of a year, and sadly passed away last November. To start the New Year, her daughter Meredith experienced a group of seizures in late January. And to top things off, in April, the main sewer line backed up into their condo and flooded the unit, completely damaging the tile, carpet, and bathroom fixtures.

“I thought about dropping out of the race.”

Heather approached her coaches, unsure of the race, and had a serious look on her face. One of her coaches suggested that it could still be done if she just tries to have fun. “You’re doing this for fun, right?” her coach asked.

“That’s when I realized I was letting everything in my life make the race NOT fun, but I do these races to help my life.” In refocusing her attitude, Heather began having fun again and committed to the June 10 race.

Race day arrived. The swim was peaceful and beautiful. She enjoyed the calm water and cool temperatures to start the day. On the bike, conditions were not so favorable. The temperature reached a high of 101 degrees and there was an 18% dropout rate for bikers being defeated by the dry climate.

“It was total carnage, people on the side of the road, barfing, being picked up by medics. You had to play it safe and ride at a slower pace.” Heather drank over 300 ounces of fluids on the bike thanks to her Camelback and the water stations. She also dumped a bottle of water over her head at every station. “It was that hot.” Along with the heat, Heather blistered her hand trying to stay upright in the wind, which also slowed her down.

Having entered the run later than she hoped, it became a race against the cutoff time. Because she had to ramp up her training in the last two months, her knee and ankle were sore and her pace per mile dragged.

“Packing in all that training took a toll on my cranky ankle,” she laughs. More than halfway into the run, Heather arrived at a checkpoint past the cutoff time.

With the option to sign a waiver and keep going, she recalled something her mother had once said,
“Always remember, I know you love doing this, but make sure you can always do it another day.” With both her knee and ankle in pain, she decided to call it quits at mile 15.5 and said to herself, “I’ll be back.”

“I’m never going to be fast enough to be on a podium. I’m competing against myself and trying to better myself. It’s not always about time.”

With another Ironman in the books, Heather answers the inevitable question, “why?”

“It gives me time to think through things and work out the rest of my life.”
Heather lets out a laugh, “When I have a race on calendar, our family’s life is so much more organized. No race, not so organized. Training brings me a sense of peace and calm that I can’t get anywhere else. It makes me a better person, a better mom, better wife, better worker.”

Heather admits that prior to joining fitness and exercise groups back in 2010, she and her husband isolated themselves socially and did not have many friends. “I met this whole group of people through training that created a social outlet that I haven’t had for about 15 years.”  Outside of training, their families get together for camping trips and other gatherings. Heather’s friends now go out of their way to hang out with Meredith so that Heather can get a training or race in. “It’s been a wonderful thing.”

Why do something so challenging and time consuming? Heather asked herself the same question several years ago and in turn, found her sweet spot. “I’m in phenomenal shape, I feel better, I have more energy. There are so many pluses.” Not to mention lifelong friends and the infinite supply of life lessons. In a way, the Ironman race ended up being the answer to all that she hoped for.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Save The Dates!

Two fun Imagine! events are coming up soon, and we encourage you to join us!

On Saturday, August 18, from 11am to 3pm, Imagine!'s Out & About program is hosting its 4th annual Bike Block Party at Erie Community Park (450 Powers St. in Erie) This event raises awareness for the importance of adaptive and therapeutic recreation. We will showcase a variety of adaptive bikes to learn about and even test drive! Music, games, a food truck, all on a sunny Saturday afternoon, so come on out!

From August 3-19, at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St in Boulder, Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source program is hosting an art exhibition. See original art in a variety of formats created by amazing Imagine! artists. There will be an opening reception on August 3, 5-7pm, with music and entertainment provided by individuals served by CORE/Labor Source. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Imagine! Hosting FREE Special Needs Planning Workshops in July

Free Special Needs Planning Workshops 

Special Needs Planning is unlike traditional planning - It’s planning for two generations! 

Thursday, July 12, 2018 Time: 10:30 am - 12:30 pm 
Monday, July 16, 2018 Time: 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm 

Location: Imagine! 1665 Coal Creek Drive Lafayette, CO 80026 

Workshop Topics Include: 

  • Self-assessment of current and ideal goals for your family 
  • Understanding the costs of a disability 
  • Government Benefits - their role in helping to provide for your child and how to protect them - Medicaid, SSI vs. SSDI and preserving eligibility 
  • The importance of having a plan in place and how to put a plan together 
  • Letter of Intent/Last Wishes - creating comprehensive instructions for future caregivers 
  • Guardianship - the different types, how they function and what the process looks like 
  • Types of Special Needs Trusts - Individual, Third Party and Pooled Trusts 
  • How to properly fund a Special Needs Trust and protect benefits 
  • Case Study - reviewing the benefits of a plan 
About the Presenters: 

As a Branch Office Supervisor for over 16 years with Transamerica Financial Advisors, Inc., Erik Utzinger's goal is to help reduce clients' stress around financial matters and move comfortably into the next phase of their lives. He helps clients clarify, coordinate and manage multiple goals by providing comprehensive services tailored to their unique situations.

Andrea Turner is the mother of a lively daughter on the autism spectrum who has navigated many of the challenges unique to our community. Andrea also has an intellectually disabled and autistic sister and she fully understands how one member with a disability can affect the whole family. She learned early on that careful planning for the future is essential. With lessons learned through dedicated advocacy for her own daughter and as a Registered Representative with Transamerica Financial Advisors, Inc. she guides families in appropriate planning for their unique situations.

Please RSVP to Andrea Turner by July 6, 2018 (301) 351-5795

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Out & About Summer Programs Underway

Imagine!’s Out & About Summer Camp and Summer Catalog 2018 has officially begun. We have a record breaking 42 qualified instructors and five interns ready and excited to go! To make sure the new staff members got started on the right foot, Out & About hosted a multi-day training and orientation, including a “Trust Run,” which, as the video below demonstrates, generated many smiles and much laughter.


Monday, June 11, 2018

Imagine!'s Early Intervention Rockstar: Heather Forsyth

Imagine!’s Early Intervention (EI) program has a terrific team working to create a world of opportunity for all abilities. To show their appreciation, this team chooses a “Rockstar” each month within their program. Team members submit nominations describing what the nominee has contributed, going above and beyond to support those we serve.

We would like to recognize Heather Forsyth as this month’s Rockstar.

“Heather exceeds expectations in her role as the Early Intervention Intake Service Coordinator. Heather manages all new Early Intervention referrals to Imagine!, while going beyond the requirements of the job assignments to ensure that our families understand the process and that our data is superb. Heather spends a lot of her time offering outreach to our community and is a part of various different networks to strengthen our partnerships. Heather is dependable, loyal and dedicated to her job and strives to provide excellent customer service to all she works with. Heather effectively adapts to change, and demonstrates exceptional professionalism and consistency in the quality of her work. Heather is detailed oriented, which is important in her role and to the Early Intervention department. Heather is truly a Rockstar and Early Intervention is so lucky to have her!”

Friday, June 8, 2018

Eagle Scout Project

David Park is entering his senior year at Monarch High School, and also on the verge of receiving his Eagle Scout Rank through the Boy Scouts of America. To achieve this rank, every Scout must complete a service project, and David chose to partner with Imagine! for his project.

David’s sister, Gina, has been receiving services from Imagine! for over a decade. “Imagine! has given so much to Gina and our family that I wanted to give back,” said David. “They provided a platform to help Gina and that really struck a chord with me. She learned how to express her emotions better, helping us understand her needs.”

Imagine! provided Gina and her family a platform, and in turn, David literally provided Imagine! a platform by way of a refurbished second level deck at the Boulder CORE/Labor Source (CLS) site. After several meetings and a year of collaboration, David felt this was his best way of giving back.

“My Scout Master suggested that this project would be too big and he recommended I pick something else. But I saw how badly it needed repair and felt that it would have the biggest impact on services at Imagine!.” David recruited a total of 20 boy scouts and parents to help out.

“It was a labor of love on David’s part,” said Jeff Rodarti, CLS Coordinator.

David and his crew stripped the old and rusted baseboards and fencing, then CLS staff members gutted the mud and junk that was resting underneath the boards. The next three weekends involved all the construction and assembly. One weekend, David and his dad built and installed the railing on their own.

After four full weekends of hard work, David and his volunteers finished a job that was predicted to be too big of a task. David and Jeff Rodarti were determined to see this project through, putting in countless hours of preparation and labor.

“We are very grateful to David for his time and effort,” said Rodarti. “Not only was the old deck an eyesore, but it was slowly becoming a safety risk.” The counselors have already taken advantage of the new space, using it to complete documentation or make phone calls. The coordinators plan to schedule staff development activities on the new deck as well.

"If feels great to see the project finished," said David. "I learned how to be more flexible and that not everything will work out as planned." David has only a few merit badges to go before receiving his Eagle Scout Rank. "The hard part is over." The endless hours of planning and constructing are in the books, and Imagine! is grateful for his service.    

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Kirsten Wineke - June 2018 Imagine! Excellence in Customer Service Recipient

Congratulations are in order for Kirsten Wineke, part of our CORE/Labor Source team, who was selected as the June 2018 recipient of the Imagine! Excellence in Customer Service Award.

Kirsten cares for clients and staff throughout each day with a friendly attitude. Kirsten is aware of many details of what is going on each particular day. Kirsten thinks ahead and tackles unexpected problems when they arise. Kirsten also puts together of creative, thoughtful, and fun activities for the classed which she is assigned to lead. Kirsten cares about both clients and staff and engages people in a way that makes them feel valuable.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Imagine! Case Management Unsung Hero – Julie Locke

Congratulations to Julie Locke on being selected as an Imagine! Case Management Unsung Hero!

“I had requested an important form for a client, and the form had been lost by the provider three times. Several months later I had exhausted all my options, and still didn’t have the form, when Julie offered to use her connections to help me obtain the completed form. I had the completed and signed form within two days. I’m not sure what supernatural powers Julie invoked to accomplish the seemingly impossible, but I am VERY thankful for her help and support.”