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Bridging the Gap golf tournament raises over $19,000

Guests hear remarkable story about life after a spinal cord injury
Joy Palma dancing at her son%27s wedding
Joy Palma dancing at her son's wedding. Supplied photo

The YMCA-YWCA of Guelph’s Bridging the Gap Annual Golf Tournament raised over $19,000 in support of the Guelph Y’s Wellness Program. Surrounded by Wellness participants, sponsors, and community supporters, the Guelph Y was honoured to host a golf tournament at Victoria Park Valley Golf Club on Thursday, June 21, 2018 to support such an impactful program.

The Guelph Y’s wellness program provides customized exercise support for individuals with low mobility and various neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s, dementia, and stroke complications.

The Wellness Program is possible because of a partnership with the University of Guelph, which involves their students as volunteers and roots the program in research.

Did you know? 

  • 50,000 strokes occur each year in Canada
  • Canada has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis (MS) in the world
  • Over 100,000 Canadians are living with Parkinson’s

At the golf tournament lunch, one Wellness Program participant, Joy Palma, shared her journey. The life of Joy, a Guelph resident of 20 years, changed dramatically in 2014 after she fainted in her bathroom and became paralyzed from the shoulders down.

After surgery and a few short stays in different rehab centres, Joy was moved to a nursing home where she currently resides. Joy receives 15-minute exercise sessions twice a week with a physiotherapist that is provided by the government. Joy’s family has also privately arranged for her to receive a one-hour session twice a week with the same physiotherapist.

Joy’s limited access to ongoing rehabilitation is common. After rehabilitation funds run out, maintaining regular exercise can be a difficult transition without the proper support. The Guelph Y’s Wellness Program is able to bridge that health care gap between hospital rehabilitation and available community resources.

Joy’s husband, Ray, saw a story on the news about people with spinal cord injuries who started to walk after a few years. One common theme for their successful progress was working out in a gym facility. Ray heard about the Guelph Y’s Wellness Program and encouraged Joy to attend. Since August 2016, Joy attends class at least once a week. By providing exercise support that is customized to the individual, the program supports the transition from rehabilitation to maintaining exercise in a community setting.

Joy told the Guelph Y Wellness team that her goal was to be able to do a mother and groom dance at her son’s wedding in August 2017 and on his wedding day, Joy danced with her son.

Joy shares, “the staff and volunteers at the Guelph Y have been amazing contributors to my success because they have created a program specific to my needs. They listened to what was important to me, observed my weekly progress and constantly suggested exercises that would challenge me to improve. Every week we attend, I am greeted with positive encouragement and a community that is passionate about healthy progress.”

Through tears, Joy shared that her daughter is getting married on September 1st this year and Joy’s goal is to walk her down the aisle. For 10 steps. With the walker. Without assistance from anyone else.

Joy concludes “four years ago, I could not have imagined what was in store for me. It was a long and painful journey, but the love and support of my family and friends gave me hope and keep me going. As my husband told me once - it's not only the prayers that help me get better. It's also my hard work and perseverance, and the people who work with me, like the staff and therapists at my nursing home as well as the Guelph Y staff and volunteers who believe in me and motivate me to get better every day.”

The Guelph Y would like to thank all of the Bridging the Gap Annual Golf Tournament sponsors for supporting the wellness program. A very special thank you to our title sponsor, Metalumen, our other event sponsors, STL Lighting Group and Heffner Lexus, as well as our generous hole sponsors.

Because of your support, the Guelph Y is able to continue to bridge that health care gap between hospital rehabilitation and available community resources in Guelph and Wellington County.