This past Saturday, hours before Jen and I boarded a flight to Dallas to start my ALS medical trial, I was honored to be part of a fundraiser for the ALS Association Golden West Chapter hosted by Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) – Kapiolani studio.
I was a founding member of OTF – Kapiolani, joining in February 2017 and working out there at least four times a week. The Kapiolani location is literally across the street from my office at Hawaii Public Radio. I loved the workouts, loved the studio, and loved the people I was meeting there. I would make it a habit to arrive at OTF at least 15 minutes before class would start so I could have the chance to say hello and “talk story” with my new friends.
The typical HIIT OTF workout included time on a rower, treadmill, and on the floor with TRX straps or light weights. I learned to LOVE to row, and over time fell in love with running too. The regulars at OTF, including the coaches and staff, became like family to me.
Twice a year, OTF would host a DriTri, a triathlon held indoors featuring a 2000-meter row, 300 body weight floor exercises, and a 5k on the treadmill. During my time at OTF, I participated in all of them, and I loved it!
It was at OTF, in the Fall of 2019, that I started to notice slight changes in my balance, running gait, and my ability to complete some floor exercises. I was still working out at OTF when COVID-19 shut most businesses down, including OTF. My last in-studio class was in March 2020.
As COVID continued to keep the doors closed at OTF, my progression and eventual ALS diagnosis reduced my ability to work out, row, and run.
When my diagnosis was official, many friends from OTF reached out to me with support. Coach EK Watt checked in with me to ask what he could do to help. I suggested a fundraising event at OTF to not just raise some money to fight ALS but to create awareness of the disease. The plans settled on a “private” donation-based DriTri in my honor and to support the local chapter of the ALS Association.
Frankly, I was only expecting a handful of friends to show up. There was so much interest, the DriTri event became a team relay event, with one person each rowing, completing the floor exercises, and running the 5k.
I showed up to the event, and it was a full house! Nine teams of three, all excited to compete for me and in support of our ALS fight. I was overwhelmed by how I was greeted with cheers, handmade posters, and banners, and surrounded by love and aloha. I teared up more than once.
When it was all done, we gathered for a group picture and one by one, each person there expressed their love and support. It was a beautiful moment for me, reminding me of the real support I have around me. It was exactly what I needed to lift my spirits as I left OTF – Kapiolani to board a plane for a seven-and-a-half-hour journey to Dallas to start the Healey ALS Platform Trial.
Thank you, my OTF crew and family, for gifting me with such a wonderful experience. I felt your love, support, and aloha.