100% of net proceeds are donated to the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund

Grainger Sasso

LoadingLast year, Jane Sasso contacted me about her son getting involved in the sport of triathlon.   I suggested that she have him attend one of the CNY Triathlon Club’s Wednesday Night Triathlon Training events at Gillie Lake and I would show him a few things so he could get started on his new road bike.  
 
I must admit, a year later, when Jane sent me Grainger’s high school AP English essay, as I read it, I was quickly reminded why I volunteer for this sport.  I couldn’t have expressed my love of the bike in a better way…and my affection for the ‘diamond in the rough’ that we know so well as Gillie Lake, Gillie Brook Road and the surrounding areas.  Grainger, despite being in high school, you are very wise my friend.   Jane, thanks for sharing Grainger Sasso’s story! 
 
Gillie Brook Road   By: Grainger Sasso
 
It was yet another humid and hot day on Long Island. The foggy lens through which we typically look back on childhood memories was only amplified by that oppressive, Long Island heat. My family and I were visiting relatives in the dog days of summer; times that were only doused by popsicles and watermelon slices. On one of the less occupied days, a thought dawned on me: I have not learned how to ride a bike yet. I promptly cleared my agenda and I devoted all of my efforts toward learning how to ride a bike. A few hours of attempts on my cousin Samantha’s bike and I was as stable on her pink Huffy as I was on my own two feet.

A series of different bikes made up the later part of my childhood and early teen years, but it wasn’t until this past summer that I got the real deal, the creme de la creme, the epitome of two-wheeled ingenuity and design…a REAL road bike. The first ride on it was somewhat surreal as I cruised easily over vast expanses of road. Throughout the rest of the summer, my bike became a therapeutic escape from my stress. As the rides became longer and more frequent, I learned to let my mind go in an almost hypnotic fashion: just keep pedaling, pedaling, pedaling…only allowing my mind to resurface to admire the beauty of a countryside or the smell of a grove. 
 
During that summer, my cycling brought me to new places. One place in particular truly stunned me by its peaceful nature, and I had lived within two miles of this place for fifteen years before ever appreciating its beauty.

Gillie Brook Lane is a two-lane, rather unkempt, stretch of road that leads to a relatively unknown, man-made pond called Gillie Lake. One would only have to follow Gillie Brook Lane for a short while before discovering the entrance to a parking lot, where a short walk would bring you to the sandy beach at the edge of Gillie Lake. To most people, the remainder of Gillie Brook Lane is unknown and rather insignificant, as it only leads to a few houses and another back woods road. Essentially, this road only exists for most, as the entrance to a picturesque public park; there are only a handful of people who know that this road continues on. Shortly after passing the parking lot entrance, a determined motorist or cyclist (me being the latter) would continue forward on Gillie Brook Lane; cruising a gradual decline and bend, sliding over soft downhills and fighting acute uphills, bending around a panoramic of farmland, then tunneling through a canopy of oak and birch that effervesces placid motivation to shoot onward through this shaded dream land and on to the rest of the ride. 
 
To be apart of the exclusive club that knows all of the intimate curves, smells, sounds, and inertia one experiences on this underappreciated stretch of road brings feelings of pride and  nostalgia, but also a wince of pain. A pain in the knowledge that such quaintly archaic pleasures are almost entirely dead in a society so focused on figures and statistics and deadlines and taxes and credit cards and getting to the weekend. In a fast paced world that has conditioned us to stress over such insignificant pursuits, it is rare to take pleasure in the day-to-day operations that make living worthwhile. 
 
This bike slowly became a part who I am today. And as it did so, it impressed upon me several lessons: to let go, to appreciate the view, to keep pedaling through the tough times, and to focus on what really matters. When we choose to gripe about rather insignificant facets of our lives, we choose to skip over the meat and bones of the human experience. If anything, riding has shown me that it is the small details that make up our existences: an embrace, a simple conversation, enjoying a sunset, time spent with loved ones, or even a bike ride.

- Posted on 06/25/2014 by Eric Prager in stories, uncategorized.

Shirley Hartnett’s story

Pine Grove is the proud sponsor of Shirley Hartnett’s story.

This is my story for what it is worth. I have a son who has muscular dystrophy. If you know anything about the disease you know it means my son is dying every day of his life. It is a muscle wasting disease. Life expectancy is 18 years old, and he is 21 years old. My son has a great mind, probably better than mine, and I am a college professor of math and run physics workshops. It is so disheartening to see him gradually get weaker. He is wheelchair bound and needs help with all bathing, dressing…

An amazing woman, with an amazing story. If she doesn’t motivate you…

One day as I was helping him, I realized what would he do if he had a healthy body. He would run, bike, and swim. Hence a triathlon (he also said dance and I’m doing that too). So this 56 year old woman who never participated in sports in her life (not even in high school or college, because I was the nerd) embarked on this journey. She didn’t know how to swim (only how not to drown), nor bike or run and was 100 pounds overweight. She didn’t own any sneakers, have a bike, or have any type workout gear. But I felt if my son could live each day with the determination to overcome his handicap, when each day was a new challenge, then I could overcome my insecurities and do my first triathlon.

Along the journey, I discovered a great team, I lost a lot of weight, and I became more fit. I discovered many things about myself but more importantly no one laughed at me, especially when I thought you could run in the winter in jeans or because I didn’t know how to disconnect the front wheel from your bike so it would fit in the car, no one said you can’t do this when I was the slowest on the hill, or when I got scared when we swam in a huge group or when I wore a wetsuit instead of a trisuit for the open water swim. In fact this community helped every step of the way. Like every athlete, ‘me an athlete’ sounds funny, I have wanted to quit. Pains, bruises, and even a concussion, but I look at my son and he can’t quit. So I can’t either.  So when I cross the finish line, and I will, my son will be there living vicariously through me, but I realized, now that the race is a few weeks away, I am doing this for me. This training has given me a lot of benefits.  This journey won’t end with this triathlon, and that is probably the greatest accomplishment, to change one’s whole mindset this late in life.

Shirley

When I announced I was doing this all my family and friends were totally shocked. This was something totally outside anything they could conceive of me ever doing. I am also a cancer survivor.  Caring for a terminally ill child can be very isolating. This training has been very empowering for me.

Shirley wrote this letter to the race director in 2012.

- Posted on 02/09/2014 by gillie-girl-admin in stories.

Angele Carpenter’s story

Saint Joseph’s Imaging Associates  is the proud sponsor of Angele Carpenter’s story.

In the sport of triathlon, you race according to what Angele 75 years Strong!your age is on December 31st of that race year.  That means that when Angele Carpenter approaches the starting line of the Gillie Girl Sprint Triathlon on July 20th of 2014, she will be racing as a 77 year old.   In reality, less than a month after the race, sGillie Girl 2013 Angele 4he will officially celebrate her 77th birthday.
For the last two years, Angele’s fellow competitors have been inspired by the fact that Angele is ‘doing’ a triathlon, but more inspired that she is in the thick of the competition.
Inspired by a diagnosis of osteopenia, Angele found motivation to exercise.   With a family history, she chose a path to reverse her diagnosis and prevent her genetic predisposition.  Her desire is a testament to her character.
Looking at Angele as a well conditioned athlete, motivates and uplifts her lady competitors (and spectators) when they see her in action.   Angele Carpenter looks like the fierce competitor with an athletic physique.  But how many 76 year olds have the muscular definition of a teenager?  Her race face on game day is a look of determination that matches her physique.  But despite her intensity when she races, this mild-mannered gem is a true delight and a gracious role model for us all to aspire to be.   Keep up the great work Angele and we will all look forward to your finish in July!

- Posted on 02/05/2014 by gillie-girl-admin in stories.

Kara Zubrowski’s story

Associated Medical Professionals  is the proud sponsor of Kara Zubrowski’s story

Kara Zubrowski

100 pounds of weight loss, first triathlon ever and qualifies for nationals. Amazing!

Kara Zubrowski has been a beacon of light in the Skaneateles community for the last two years.  Her story is amazing, her power to ‘overcome’ is apparent and her ability to ‘inspire’ is infectious.  A graduate of Skaneateles High School and now a first year teacher in the field of ESL (English as a Second Language), Kara has taken the courage to overcome and challenged herself to be identified by her achievements.  Four years ago, Kara was struggling with where she was personally.  At 240 pounds, she new it was time to do something with her life and reverse the trends to get out of the rut she was in.

Dissatisfied with her employment situation and her weight gain, she quit her job, went back to school and joined the Skaneateles YMCA.  Her life and confidence has taken a new direction and she has never looked back.  Since joining the YMCA, Kara has lost 100 pounds, has competed in 3 half marathon events, had a piece published about her in Self Magazine and at the inaugural Gillie Girl Sprint Triathlon in 2012, Kara qualified for nationals.  What makes this achievement even more special…she had never done a triathlon before.
Kara has become a great community leader.  Before relocating to Maryland to teach, she taught spin classes at the Skaneateles YMCA, trying to help others find the same motivation she did.  Here is to you Kara Zubrowski for being a Rock Star in our community.  Keep up the good work and continue inspiring and changing the lives of everyone around you.

- Posted on 02/05/2014 by gillie-girl-admin in stories.

Kris May’s story

Johnston Paper is the proud sponsor of Kris May’s story

There are few people, that you can say changed the course of your life.   Kris May was one of those for me.  In 2000, Kris approached me about strength training his two oldest children, as well as his wife and himself.  It was that connection that completely changed the course of my life, redirected my professional career to the path it has taken, enabled me to find the sport of triathlon and has permitted me the opportunity to be the race director for the Gillie Girl Sprint Triathlon.

Kris and his brother’s story is one that has greatly inspired me and sadly I reflect on this, as a tribute to the life of Kris May.  Kris and his brother Mike lost both their parents at a young age.   Their father passed from a heart condition and mother from breast cancer.   Taking over the family business at relatively young ages, the two had to become street wise quickly.  With little formal education (an associates degree between the two), the pair have grown Johnston Paper to the point where it does in two days, what it did in a year.   Johnston Paper has grown to be an 80 million dollar company serving the paper, cleaning and chemical needs of businesses all over the northeast, by focusing on providing the best service to their customers.

Both Kris and Mike have lived with a tenacity to reach new goals, achieve great things, make the sacrifices in life to achieve greatness.   With an understanding of their drive, it’s now wonder they have had such phenomenal support from the business community.   While their passion has been their business, like the sport of triathlon, its the accomplishments of the daily grind that create greatness.

Johnston Paper has been one of our top tier sponsors since the inception of the Gillie Girl Sprint Triathlon.  JP was the first sponsor to the table when I proposed the race.   This past year, Kris May lost his life to liver and colon cancer.   I have had the pleasure of watching Kris and his wife Donna raise their three children, David, Ryan and Megan.  Kris, thanks for the support, the wisdom and the inspiration.

Eric Prager / Gillie Girl Race Director

- Posted on 02/05/2014 by gillie-girl-admin in stories.

Stories

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