Monday, October 16, 2017

LI2DAY 2017 raises $16,200 for Strength for Life

Strength for Life, a nonprofit organization providing free exercise classes, wellness retreats, nutrition classes and empowerment group sessions for cancer patients, is a beneficiary of the LI 2Day Walk. The LI2DAY was organized to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer and other cancer research, to benefit cancer sufferers, survivors, and their families, and to support organizations that are participating in such efforts.

The LI 2Day which is a 13.1 mile, one day walk was held on June 10th, 2017. The walk takes participants along a scenic route overlooking the Smith Point Beach and then through the local neighborhood. Participants had a wonderful lunch and then head back to Smith Point Bridge in the final procession and celebration of survivors which ends with a closing ceremony.

If you have not had the opportunity to participate or view this awesome event you will be amazed at the emotional celebration of these survivors. Mark your calendars and keep an eye out to become involved, this is an event worth your time and efforts. The next LI2Day will be on June 9th, 2018.

To our friends at LI2Day "Thank you so much for your support of $16,200 this year." As you know this is a tremendous help to our small grass-root nonprofit, and both your faith and support is extraordinary. We have really been able to grow throughout Long Island with your help.

Strength for Life, celebrating its 10th year, currently holds 12 exercise class a week spanning from the Queens border at Northwell Health out to Southampton Hospital, helping a total of 2600 survivors in our short lifetime. And as you may know, we just hosted our 22nd Wellness Retreat on August 5th, 2017 at the Hyatt Windwatch offering 20 new cancer patients/survivors an escape from their daily responsibilities and the opportunity to learn new tools to renew the mind, body and spirit. We also have our empowerment group which meets twice a month, walking groups during good weather and nutrition class.

Strength for Life expanded the programs to pediatric cancer patients and their families in 2016, this has been a slow start but it is gaining momentum. Below are the results of our surveys after the class participation. Unbeknownst to us at the start, the psycho/social aspect of these classes exceeds all expectations.

It is a continued pleasure to work with everyone involved in the LI2Day, from day one we felt welcomed, appreciated and supported in everything we attempted to accomplish, and for that we are grateful.

Thank you so very much Ginny Salerno, Kristie Moore and everyone at LI2Day.

Thank you to our walkers 'our team', our volunteers and our supporters.

You can contact Strength for Life at, or

visit our website
"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." 

~Helen Keller

Saturday, October 7, 2017



Cycle for Strength 2017, the 4th Annual, what an INCREDIBLE event!  Barbara Larrea and the Wantagh World Gym Family really out did themselves this time!  Too many "thank you's" to go through - so many made this event a huge success and Strength for Life is so very grateful for everyone's hard work - ESPECIALLY to Barbara!  Her vision, determination, and commitment is what makes Cycle for Strength an AWESOME event!  

The ride starts with a video montage asking the crowd (95 riders!) questions such as "Why are you here?" "Why do you exist?" "What is your purpose?"  while Barbara voice overs (while spinning!) "the 2 most important days in your life are 1) THE DAY YOU WERE BORN and 2) THE DAY YOU DISCOVER WHY YOU WERE BORN! The moment you find your reason for being, when your "WHY" becomes clear" and then on the big screen you see  "When The WHY is BIG ENOUGH, The HOW is EASY"!  Motivated yet?? How can you not be!? I think many found their purpose through Barbara with Cycle for Strength, raising over $35,000 (so far, still going!) to help those with a cancer diagnosis be "Stronger than Cancer"!


On another note....Cycle for Strength raffle money will go to help Makenzie Cadmus, an adorable little girl who has a rare genetic skin disorder called Epidermolysis coincidence.  I had the opportunity to speak with Makenzie's grandma (the whole family was at CFS) and she told me that Makenzie's surgery is on November 13th - Evelyn's Birthday - no coincidence! Evelyn will help this little girl get through all she will endure, I am sure of that!  

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Wellness Retreat #18!!

WOW!!!  Every.. single.. time..I get blown away.  How in the world do I have the privilege of being in the presence of these incredibly inspiring women (and men!)?  The stories of survivorship, intuition, getting put on a path-not a chosen one-and persevering…humbling to say the least. 
Our day started with Penni Niles, intenSati Leader, she took our group through powerful movement affirmations - incredible!  Some tears shed as she tapped into our inner child - powerful stuff!  Penni has been with Strength for Life for YEARS and we are so very grateful for her commitment to our organization.

Next up was our Strength for Life Exercise Class!  Flying solo, without my now retired gal Jacqui, I was able to synchronize a group wall squat, all demonstrated perfect form and we even had one champion hold the position for a full minute (way to go Michelle!)!  Such fun while learning to incorporate exercise into the treatment and recovery plan…1 request for a Florida class….Jacqui???!!!

Time for lunch and a chat about environmental toxins, food, and epigenetics…yes, I stole Dr. Siobhan’s lecture:)  Our resident N.D. is en route home from Switzerland, so Teresa and I did our best to provide the most valuable information from her powerpoint to our guests!  

On to EFT, Emotional Freedom Tapping, lead by Diane Gordon, EFT Practitioner.  Diane took the group through a series of techniques focusing on reducing their stress level by taking a negative thought and shifting the focus through affirmations and tapping on specific meridian/acupressure points.  Many ah-ha moments, emotional releases, pain relief, and some clothes shedding (don’t let your mind wonder…lol). 

Running a little over, we moved right into yoga with Kim.  Starting with a peaceful shavasana (yoga pose), Kim had our guests connect with themselves using breathing, body poses, and meditative sounds.  The whole theme was about going within and bringing the healing green light into their heart chakras.  Beautiful experience for all and certainly set the stage for our Reiki Circle up next.

Our signature event of the weekend, our FABULOUS REIKI CIRCLE, lead by the incredible Rosemary Maginniss, who continuously gives of herself to organize these magnificent circles - so very grateful for Rosemary!  We had so many reiki practitioners volunteer, the room was packed and the energy was palpable!  Add in the incredible tunes of Sound Healing provided by Donna Nesterck (who just happens to be one of our honorees at our upcoming Recognition Dinner!), you have a pretty powerful environment!  Our other honorees happen to be Reiki practitioners, Susan Ferro and Susan LaSorsa (who was away).  To see our guests emerge from the room with a look of relaxation and calmness is priceless, this is exactly what we intend for them to experience during this retreat. 

DINNER TIME!  Everyone was ready for a good, healthy meal after all the activity during the afternoon!  Great conversation, a lot of sharing, a little vino - perfect!

To tie this day up with a big ole’ bow was Gina Costa.  Gina, a breast cancer survivor herself, is a Life Coach with a special interest in helping other cancer thrivers on their healing journey.  Her whole session was really about taking a step back to look at your challenges and refocus your energy around them.  Gina empowered our survivors by giving them different methods of looking at 6 energy influences and how to shift their thoughts around them resulting in a new perspective.  Really important and easy information to follow and use.  Gina came from NJ to spend the day with everyone and she really added a great vibe to the whole event!  

After hours many stayed up chatting, connecting, and even using the jacuzzi!  So nice to kick back and relax after a packed day!  The next morning a recap during breakfast and Teresa introduced everyone to many self healing books and Angel Cards…what a way to end Wellness Retreat #18!  Also...take note of the artistic talent...our morning waiter sketched this during breakfast...amazing!

Thank you all who supported us along the way so we may provide these weekends FREE OF CHARGE to our guests, we could not do any of this without you!  Special thank you to our volunteers who share their gift of knowledge and time and bring such compassion to our survivors - you are incredible!  

Most of all, THANK YOU to our guests, you are all so amazing!  We learn so much from you and  it has been our honor to be in your company this weekend.  God Bless!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

NYSC/Smithtown Fundraiser for Strength for Life 11/19/16

On behalf of Strength for Life, we would like to thank NYSC/Smithtown for the Spin/Zumba/Yoga/Water Aerobic Fundraiser 11/19/2016, raising over $3100. The contributions received will help Strength for Life continue on the mission of providing FREE exercise classes and wellness weekends to people living with cancer and survivors. Since our inception in 2007 we have helped over 1700 cancer patients/survivors feel their absolute best!
As you may know, Strength for Life was formed in memory of Evelyn Knapp, an exercise physiologist, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2005. After Evelyn’s diagnosis, she continued to exercise saying it gave her a feeling of control in an uncontrollable situation. Aside from the physiological benefits of exercising during treatment, studies have shown that there are many psychological benefits as well. The newest ACSM guidelines suggest that patients who exercise through treatment have up to a 50% increase in survival rate.
Below are the results of our class follow up based on 213 surveys.
How has your participation in this exercise program affected any/all of the following?
List the % of improvement.
Your strength 59%
Your range of motion 63%
Your endurance 62%
Dealing with everyday stress 65%
Thinking about your illness 62%
How do you feel on a daily basis 70%
Your outlook on the future 75%
Sleep patterns 63%
Our classes will resume in January 2017, we are serving 9 locations with 11 classes a week, find a class near you or to share with a friend/relative on LI.

There are also 4 retreats scheduled for more about the wellness retreats (offered a 'no cost' to survivors)
Fundraisers like NYSC/Smithtown allow us to keep our programs FREE for survivors.

Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

NYSC/Smithtown holding 90 minute Spin OR Zumba/Yoga classes on 11/19

Join us on November 19th at New York Sports Club/Smithtown as we raise awareness and necessary funding for the FREE programs that Strength for Life offers.

As you may know, Strength for Life provides free exercise classes throughout LI (presently at 9 locations) and offers 3-4 wellness retreats each year for cancer patients/survivors on LI at NO COST. Fundraisers like this one, offered by our friends at NYSC/Smithtown, allow us to continue these offerings.

Please consider participating in the 90 minute Spin event OR Zumba and Restorative Yoga classes, or making a donation.
Tickets and/or donations can be made through this link at NYCharities

Thank you!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Strength for Life 'Cycle for Strength' 9/24/16

Strength for Life would like to thank  Barbara Larrea and the World Gym Wantagh  for organizing “Cycle for Strength” held 9/24/16 from 9-1 at Mulcahy’s, the third epic two hour event with participants invited to ride in honor of a cancer warrior. Enormous effort was put forth by Ms. Larrea to organize this event and by the ‘Team and Family’ of World Gym Wantagh. Over $50,000 was raised by this generous community, and the sponsors of the event. In the past three years, the Wantagh World Gym has held this event and chose Strength for Life as a beneficiary with the total raised over $110,000. Strength for Life relies on our fundraising events to provide these services and World Gym Wantagh relieved a heavy burden during these years.

This year, each of the 92 riders was asked to fundraise $350 for the event and nearly all exceeded their goal.  The energy at Mulcahy’s was palpable as the riders entered, claimed their bike, bought raffles and prepared for the experience.  Barbara Larrea on center stage led the riders on a fantastic journey combining her heartfelt, inspiring coaching, fabulous sounds and personalized World Gym video. Add in food, libations and raffles galore. 80 baskets and 11 grand prizes. The proceeds from the raffles of $6000 was presented to a World Gym warrior fighting a recurrence but strong, beautiful, confident and riding with the rest.

Strength for Life (SFL), is a non-profit dedicated to providing free exercise programs designed to enhance the recovery process of persons with a cancer diagnosis throughout Long Island communities.  Services provided include educating cancer patients, caregivers and the medical community on the benefits of incorporating exercise into the treatment regimen and its effect on reducing the risk of certain cancers and re-occurrences, along with improving bodily functional activities.  Programs are conducted by certified cancer exercise specialists in a group setting and held at 11 accessible locations throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.  Over the past 7 years SFL has reached more than 1,700 patients and survivors. World Gym Wantagh hosts our classes twice a week and we are forever grateful for the beautiful room and welcoming staff.

Many survivors are initially intimidated to go back into the gym environment, our intent is to empower them to embrace the "new normal" and feel confident enough to go back to their previous activities. Learning of the astronomical copays of a cancer diagnosis and how it can make it financially difficult for many to work with a personal trainer Strength for Life has tried to eliminate all the barriers – travel, equipment, cost and qualified cancer exercise specialists.

We are truly blessed to have been introduced to Ms. Larrea, World Gym Wantagh and the scores of people she inspires to support our cause, Strength for Life.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wellness Retreat #18!!!!

Wellness Retreat number 18!!

I cannot believe that we just finished up our 18th Wellness Retreat!!  360 cancer patients and survivors to date have experienced our incredible weekends, all free of charge, thanks to our amazing volunteers and our fundraising efforts!  2017 Wellness Retreat dates coming out soon and look for something new that we will be rolling out….I will keep you in suspense, you will have to check our website and LIKE us on Facebook for what we have in store!:)

As always, we started the morning with our guests sharing a bit of their journey, my favorite part of the day by far.  It still amazes me how incredible the human spirit is when faced with adversity, to say our group was inspiring would be an understatement.  To hear what they have experienced shows us what true strength is all about.  

Once we finished up breakfast and our go around we went right into an incredible dance/movement/empowerment session with the AMAZING Penni Niles!  Wow, what an a great class!  What can beat exercising while affirming positive statements!  “I AM STRONGER THAN I SEEM!” “I AM BRAVER THAN I THINK!” I AM BLESSED IN ALL I NEED!”…these girls are all of that and more! 

Time to cool down a tad and sit to take in Dr. Siobhan Hanlon’s presentation.  Always a lot to learn when in her audience!  The focus was on how to help yourself heal while best handling our environmental toxins, food sources, and other stresses that plague us.  Dr. Siobhan ended her talk with stating the importance of visualization and guided imagery for optimal healing.  That last statement became the bridge to our next presenter, Pramilla Venkatesaran, who guided our guests on a remarkable journey of self discovery through a writing workshop.  Pricilla’s emphasis  was on how your mind, thoughts, and words (both written and spoken) shape your experiences in this lifetime.  As she pointed out, be careful of what you say, write, speak, or think,  it may very well come to life!  To quote Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right”, I think you know where to go with this one!  

Moving right along to yoga, taught by the awesome Gina Califano!  So nice to get out of the chairs and our minds to move our body while surrounded by the refreshing aroma of essential oils diffusing in the room….ahhhhhhhh, so very powerful and relaxing at the same time!  Now it is time for our FAMOUS REIKI  and SOUND HEALING CIRCLE!  Rosemary Maguinness somehow outdoes herself every single retreat, she ceases to amaze me, seriously, incredible…..  We are so grateful for all of the reiki practitioners who spent their Saturday afternoon volunteering at SFL’s Wellness Retreat and for Donna Nesteruk for bringing out all of her crystal bowls, gongs and sound healing tools.  So very powerful for all involved, first time  for some and a life changing moment for all.  The stories shared into the night about their experiences during the circle was inspiring to say the least.  Time for a little dinner and a presentation with Certified Feng Shui Consultant Laura Cerrano, owner of Feng Shui Manhattan, who educated us on the Ba-gua map, symbolism, and tradition.  We wrote on paper what we wanted to let go and then burned it in epsom salt to release the anger and negative energy and then did an exchange by writing down our positive intentions and holding a red envelope ceremony.  We all learned that placing 9 (an auspicious number) oranges in the kitchen or dining area is considered a sign of abundance and good health and that when you find feathers in your path it means spirit is saying “hello” (Jacqui, that one is for you!).  Always a wealth of information and so enjoyable to be with Laura!

Laura Cerrano performing the cleansing ceremony

Time to kick back, relax, and reflect on all that we experienced during the day.  Some stayed up a wee late to “play” with Angel Card’s and receive tuning fork vibrational sound healing by Lisa LoBosco.  What a treat to have her here sharing her wisdom and knowledge with us!  
Sunday allowed us to chat, share more, connect, and recap….another successful Retreat complete!  

Special thank you to all our volunteers who help make this day happen and to our amazing guests who allowed themselves to take the time from their busy lives to give themselves the self-love and care that they so deserve.  All of us at Strength for Life are blessed to have met you....thank you for allowing us to be a part of your journey!