Like many Rye Y members, Erin Hagerty arrives at the Y twice a week, eager to work out with her trainers.
By Denise Woodin
Like many Rye Y members, Erin Hagerty arrives at the Y twice a week, eager to work out with her trainers. In the pool with Sheila, she floats, flexes her arms, and walks through water to stay strong and keep her muscles loose. With Renee, Erin works her legs on the recumbent bike and her shoulders on the arm bike. Recently, she added Pilates to her fitness routine.
The difference between Erin and other members is that Erin was born with cerebral palsy and a hearing impairment. “I came into this world too soon,” she remarked with a small smile. A cochlear implant in 2004 freed her from the hearing aids she had worn most of her life. “I hear so much more now,” she said. “It freaked me out in the beginning!” But there were more challenges in store.
Born and raised in Garden City, Long Island, Erin was living in Islip and exercising at the Bay Shore YMCA when she was diagnosed with breast cancer about five and a half years ago. She underwent a mastectomy, which required extensive rehabilitation. “I was recovering from surgery and the social workers felt that I needed 24-hour care,” she recalled. Erin lived for roughly four years in a facility, first on Long Island and later in Mamaroneck, where she could be closer to her sister who lives in Greenwich.
“From the beginning, my family didn’t think I belonged in a facility,” Erin said. “They worked very hard to get me out. They looked for housing around Westchester, but couldn’t find anything affordable and acceptable.” Finally, a Westchester Independent Living staff member found an apartment for Erin in Yonkers. Brand-new and overlooking the Hudson River from the 11th floor, the unit is fully wheelchair accessible.
A member of YMCAs in Suffolk County and Connecticut on and off since the early 1990s, Erin joined the Rye Y about four years ago. Although she had previously worked with “a great trainer” at another gym, the fees there became too expensive. She found that she could get the same attention at the Y and the financial aid she needed. Starting in the Rye Y’s Fitness Center, Erin quickly established a routine, arriving via Westchester County’s Bee-Line ParaTransit van. “The people here are very nice,” she noted.
“I never stopped working out over the last 25 to 30 years,” Erin continued. “Last October, I completed the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk at Manhattanville. I’m going to keep working out and be out and about. My goal is to stay fit and healthy.”
The author is Director of Community Impact and Social Responsibility, Rye YMCA.