Sharon Owen woke up dreaming she had been in a war. In a sense, she had been. After contracting pneumonia and spending a month in a coma, she could no longer walk, talk, sit up or even swallow. “I was fighting for my life,” she says.
A gold medal performance [video]
I chose to say ‘I can.’” – Sharon Owen, Good Samaritan Society – Bonell Community resident
Unable to move, Sharon had to decide if she was going to live her life in the care of someone else, or work to regain her health. “A lot of people just don’t try,” she says. “They say, ‘I can’t.’ I chose to say, ‘I can.’”
When she arrived at Good Samaritan Society – Bonell Community as an assisted living resident at age 57, Sharon had started to walk again but needed a cane. Wellness director Matt Biedron and his employees immediately started her in exercise classes that were part of the location’s wellness program. The focus was on getting her to walk with more confidence. Before long, Sharon’s cane was gone.
“Soon after that I got her into my higher level fitness class,” Matt says, “so that she could build her strength and her confidence and her coordination.”
Sharon just kept going. From balance classes to chair exercises, and even Crazy 8 — a fast-paced circuit with eight stations — she’s working out nearly every day.
The wellness classes helped her regain her strength so quickly that just a few months after arriving at the center, Sharon moved from assisted living to a senior apartment.
She also volunteers on campus. Every day before her exercise classes, she delivers birthday flowers to residents.
"That sure makes their day," she says. "The look on their face when they say, 'How did you know it was my birthday?'"
Three days a week she works in the campus store. She helps with groceries, serves ice cream and pitches in where help is needed. Staying active and volunteering, "that's what keeps me going," she says.
Sharon is also winning medals in the Senior Olympics contests on campus. She's won the gold cup in pushups, and ball tosses are another speciality. “I’m not very good at golf,” she says with a laugh.
Attitude is everything
It's been almost three years since Sharon started rehabilitation. She's always on the go and says exercising regularly has been key.
"I worked really hard to get to where I am and I'm still working on my balance," she says.
Sharon credits Matt and the staff at Bonell Community for her rapid success. “Matt is a great teacher,” Sharon says. “Patient. (He) makes it fun. Makes coming to class great.”
Matt says Sharon’s attitude has a lot to do with her success.
“She’s done everything I’ve asked her to do. It’s her effort that has made the big difference here.”
He says others can look at Sharon and see how rehabilitation can transform the body.
“She encourages and motivates folks on this campus,” Matt says. “She just wanted to have a chance, and I think you let others see that and it helps them persevere and go, ‘Why not me?’”
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