Posted by: allisonbarnes | March 17, 2011

Gymnastic Breaks Record While Promoting Get REAL & HEEL

With St. Patrick’s Day just a few hours away its hard to think of anything that doesn’t involve shamrocks or the color green. But in celebration of last month’s Valentines Day, I wanted to share how luck wasn’t needed to break the attendance record for a gymnastics meet at Carmichael Arena. On Feb. 14, the Women’s Gymnastics team hosted its second Health Fair with Get REAL & HEEL before the University of Maryland Gymnastics Meet.

The UNC Gymnastics team is involved with an array of outreach activities.  After a team member’s mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2005, the team has been dedicated to programs that provide cancer support. Since then the team has organized two health fair events to provided information about services and programs that can help families cope with cancer.

Get REAL & HEEl, along with the Pink Pacers, offered activities such as face-painting, hair-styling , and nail painting for two hours before the meet against UMD.  Get REAl & HEEL also sold shirts and baked goods, raising $1,700 for the organization, while handing out information packets and performing fitness testings.UNC Professor Debra Murray has been cancer-free since the Fall of 2008.

Get REAl & HEEl offers classes that help survivors through therapy and exercise classes. One of those survivors is UNC Health Education Professor Debra Murray. Murray was diagnosed in the Spring of 2008 after she discovered a lump that a mammogram didn’t pick up. After chemotherapy and surgery, Murray has been cancer-free since November 2008.

“Get REAL & HEEL changed my life, ” said Murray. “When I came out of treatment, I was a mess. My blood levels were low and I had no balance. Going from a college athlete to not being able to stand on your own feet is hard.”

After chemotherapy, Murray participated in Get REAl & HEEL for 5 months, where the program helped her build up to 3 hours of physical activity each week along with 1 1/2 hours of recreational therapy. One type of therapy Murray enjoyed was HeartMath, a type of therapy that allows people to control their emotions by training their minds to control their heart rate. Ultimately, it teaches survivors how to relax and to block out triggers that can cause stress.

Another survivor who enjoyed the event was Dawn Porter. Porter was diagnosed with cancer in December of 2009 and has been cancer-free since January 2010.

“I think as a breast cancer survivor one often struggles with feeling alone with what you are going through,” said Porter. “Events like this lifts you up and reminds you that though each of us are walking on our own journey, there are so many people including the Women’s Gymnastics team lifting us up and allowing us to lean on them when needed.”

Get REAL & HEEL is offered to all survivors free of charge. Thanks to grants and partnerships like the UNC Women’s Gymnastics team, the program can remain free.

“It makes me extremely encouraged to have athletes who care enough to make a difference on campus,” said Murray. “Our athletes our very visible, so when they take part in a cause like this it makes a difference.”

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