Sixty-five year old Ultimate Hiker Sally Ericksen is an inspiration to many – not just at CureSearch, but at Anytime Fitness as well. Sally’s Ultimate Hike story began when her grandson, Aaron was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at one and a half years old. Although Aaron endured two years of treatment and 150 days in the hospital, he just wanted to play and be a kid. “He was an example for all of us on how to enjoy each day as it came,” remembers Sally. After two years of fighting hard, Aaron lost his battle in January of 2013.
Inspired by her daughter, who completed the Superior Hiking Trail Ultimate Hike in 2013, Sally decided to lace up her own boots and take on the 25.5 mile hike in one day to celebrate Aaron, and to raise critical research funds. She knew she could not do it alone, but she also knew exactly where to turn for help – the staff at Anytime Fitness in Farmington, Minnesota. As a caregiver for both Aaron and her husband, Bill, who has been battling Alzheimer’s disease for a decade, Sally relies on the team there to help keep her strong and motivated. To prepare for the Hike, she completed shorter training hikes with the local Ultimate Hike training group, and regular workouts at Anytime Fitness, where they encouraged her to submit her Anytime Fitness story in a national contest.
Much to Sally’s surprise, she was selected to be featured by Anytime Fitness. “People decide to join a health club for very personal reasons,” says Anytime Fitness spokesman, Mark Daly. “What we admire about Sally is that she makes it a priority to stay strong and healthy so that she can take care of others. She’s truly a remarkable person.” While she was not too sure about being featured as a national success story, she realized the opportunity she had to inspire others and raise awareness. “I was flattered, but reluctant to become a ‘success story.’ Once I realized it could be a platform for raising awareness for childhood cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, I gratefully accepted the honor. Cures are needed, but it can’t happen unless more people know and get behind the push for research,” explained Sally.
The team at Anytime Fitness knew that they could not capture Sally’s story without seeing Ultimate Hike in action, so they loaded up their gear and made the trek to Northern Minnesota. In addition to filming the Hike, they sponsored the event, and spent time getting to know all of the participants. “It’s impossible not be impressed and moved while watching Ultimate Hikers push themselves mile after mile,” says Daly. “Losing a loved one can make you feel powerless. Ultimate Hikes give family members an extraordinary opportunity to celebrate a child’s life – and to contribute mightily toward curing childhood cancers.” After a long day on the trail, they were ready to put together Sally’s story.
Sally’s success story was shared with more than 2,000 attendees at the annual Anytime Fitness conference in September, and is now featured prominently on the Anytime Fitness website. Sally continues to exercise at Anytime Fitness, and is thankful for their role in her Ultimate Hike training. “Fitness and strength training have truly helped me on this journey. Anytime Fitness deserves credit, as the people and equipment at Anytime Fitness in Farmington are top of the line,” said Sally. Watch Sally’s inspirational story below.
If you are interested in learning more about CureSearch’s Ultimate Hike, please contact Brecka.Putnam@CureSearch.org.
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