On Friday afternoon, multiple Rowan clubs, departments, sports teams and others in the Rowan community convened at the Intramural Field to hold the inaugural Fitness Festival in support of ALS awareness, as well as to promote fitness as part of a healthy life.
The event was also held to commemorate the life of Dr. Theresa Cone, a former Rowan Health and Exercise Science professor, who was battling ALS.
Cone passed away Sept. 27 but had planned on attending the event. Her family, including her husband (Dr. Stephen Cone, who is also a former Rowan professor), her mother and a few more of her relatives attended the event.
The Fitness Festival consisted of stations for participants to do various exercises, such as throwing medicine balls, pushing sleds and doing push-ups.
All equipment was provided by Appenzeller Training Systems, a gym located in West Berlin and owned by Rowan alumnus CJ Appenzeller. Appenzeller facilitated the opening warm-up for participants.
The festival had a high turnout of Rowan sports teams, faculty, alumni and others in the Rowan community.
The goal of the fitness part of the event was to show people that exercising is essential to being healthy, as well as something that can be fun instead of doing boring timeworn exercises like going on a treadmill or lifting weights.
William Samalonis, a sophomore human performance in clinical settings major and the president of Exercise is Medicine, spearheaded the planning of the event and emphasized the role of exercise in our lives.
“The overall goal of this event, for Exercise is Medicine, is to get people excited to get active and healthy,” Samalonis said. “Exercise is the best preventative medicine out there; it prevents pretty much everything you can think of on the chronic spectrum of disease.”
On the other hand, the event sought to raise awareness for ALS.
Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS is a disease that attacks motor neurons. Neurons control muscle movement, and as the disease progresses, those who suffer from it are unable to move their bodies.
As of now, there isn’t a cure for ALS. However, the event helped to fund research to find a cure by donating 50% of the proceeds to the ALS Association, as well as helped raise awareness for the disease.
One of the participants, Claire McKissick, attended as part of a bonding activity for the swimming and diving team. Though she had become aware of the disease originally through the Ice Bucket Challenge that overtook the internet five years ago, McKissick heightened her awareness by attending the festival.
“I think this definitely helps [bring awareness] because I think a lot of the attention has kind of died down a little bit with the challenge, but I think this is a really great way of reminding people that it’s still an issue, it’s still out there and it’s still something that we can come together and help fix,” said McKissick, a senior Radio, Television and Film major.
Dr. Theresa Cone dedicated most of her life to teaching health and physical education, both in public schools and at Rowan. She focused much of her attention on promoting funding for those with disabilities.
Cone had an immense impact on those with whom she came into contact.
Dr. Gregory Biren, a health and exercise science professor and coordinator of exercise science at Rowan, was one of those people.
“[She was] energetic beyond belief, compassionate beyond belief…she’s the greatest teacher I’ve ever met in my life,” Biren said. “She looks at you, she talks to you, she’s patient with you, and she just has nothing but goodness to give to people to help them overcome their issues.”
In light of his wife’s passing, Dr. Stephen Cone had a few words to say as a reminder to everyone at the event.
“It’s a little sappy,” he said, “but I’m going to say it: Love those who are close to you, bring those who are further away from you close to you. Don’t waste a day; don’t waste a moment.”
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