Out With The Old…

Alert reader JP Vellotti was driving by Town Hall today, and saw this sight:

Town Hall cherry tree planting

The towering apple tree at the base of the hill is gone.

It’s been replaced by a new line of cherry trees.

The view will be different.

Like everything else in Westport, we’ll get used to it.

Some will love it. Some won’t.

And one day — years from now – those trees too will be gone.

 

 

Say Cheese!

Westport’s long wait for gourmet grilled cheese has ended.

The Grilled Cheese Eatery — the Westport branch of a Fairfield restaurant that opened last October — is serving up 15 varieties of the childhood favorite. Though none are anything like your mother made.

The menu includes “The Smoky” (smoked Gouda, Muenster, baby back ribs, pickles, caramelized onions on sour dough), “The Gardener” (goat cheese, Fontina, 5 grilled vegetables, basil, olives on 9-grain) and “The Chesapeake” (crab cake, roasted peppers, Panko crisp, dill Havarti on English muffin). Not a squirt of Velveeta anywhere.

The menu includes grilled cheese with ribs and caramelized onions.

The menu includes grilled cheese with ribs and caramelized onions.

There are 3 types of specialty fries (rosemary-parmesan, feta-oregano and Gruyere-truffle oil); several soups, and a create-your-own salad with over 40 ingredients.

All sandwiches can be ordered on gluten-free bread. At least 2 soups a day are dairy- and gluten-free. Even the French onion soup is vegan.

The Grilled Cheese Eatery is open 7 days a week (11 a.m.-7 p.m.). Delivery will be available soon.

It’s on the ground floor of the strip mall vacated this winter by Great Cakes and Target Training, next to the abandoned Citgo station.

How nice to see a little life coming back to this area. And — amazingly – the new place is neither a bank nor a nail salon.

Westporter Completes The Marathon In 11 Hours. But Here’s The Catch…

Last month, “06880″ reported on David Friezo’s plan to run a marathon at the North Pole.

Yeah, you read that correctly.

This morning, the Westporter emailed “06880″:

I made it!

I completed the 2014 UVU North Pole Marathon. I ran alongside 47 competitors from 20 countries at the top of the world. Through snow, ice and -30 Celsius wind chills – I persevered.

David Friezo in action.

David Friezo in action.

My total race time was 11:20:26. It was the most challenging 11+ hours of my life.

The conditions were tougher than usual. The UVU race director mapped out a 12-lap course marked with flags spread over 26.2 miles. There was a lot of soft deep snow and ice chunks. As time went on the course deteriorated, becoming even more and more difficult.

Keeping warm in the elements was challenging. Visibility was difficult as my goggles and face kept freezing up, including my eyelashes. Nonetheless, I managed to finish with only some stage-one frostbite on my nose and one toe. Not bad!

The race was an exhilarating experience, and the competitors were an interesting bunch. The beauty of the North Pole is hard to put into words. The entire race took place in a sea of white that left me breathless.

The top of the world.

The top of the world.

I wish I could have shared the experience firsthand with all of you. I want to thank you all those who contributed to my North Pole Marathon pursuit, by donating to the Friezo Family Support Fund at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

While the race has ended, there are still children with pediatric cancer who need our help. If you’d like to donate, please click here to make a difference. Thanks!

Welcome home, David. The weather hasn’t been great, but it’s getting there. See you at the beach!

David Friezo, at the finish.

David Friezo, at the finish. (All photos courtesy of North Pole Marathon.)

Gillespie Center: 25 Years Of Shelter From The Homeless Storm

For a place as contentious as Westport — half the town opposed building the playground at Compo, and half thought building a nuclear power plant on Cockenoe Island was just ducky — you’d think putting a homeless shelter in the heart of downtown would ignite World War III.

But you would be wrong.

The Gillespie Center is preparing to celebrate its 25th anniversary this Friday (April 25, 3 p.m., in the courtyard at 45 Jesup Road). Last week, a few of the founding visionaries reminisced.

Gillespie Center - anniversary

What came through loud and clear was this: Moving the shelter from the old Vigilant Firehouse on Wilton Road to a decrepit maintenance shed behind what was then the Fine Arts Theater (now Restoration Hardware) was never an issue.

Not in 1989. Not in the intervening years. And certainly not today. Over a quarter century, the Gillespie Center — the name honors Jim Gillespie, the 1st president of Homes with Hope (then called the Interfaith Housing Association) — has provided housing, meals and hope to thousands of men and women.

And many more Westporters than that have contributed food, setup and cleanup help, equipment and funds to keep that hope alive.

Gathering at the center last week were Marty Hauhuth, 1st selectman from 1985-89; Pete Powell, Homes With Hope president from 1988-2010; Dolores Bacharach, HWH’s 1st vice president and a leader in the establishment of the community kitchen, and current HWH president Jeff Wieser.

Dolores Bacharach and Pete Powell reminisce about the early years of the Gillespie Center.

Dolores Bacharach and Pete Powell reminisce about the early years of the Gillespie Center.

Pete recalled the forces that led to the opening of the 1st homeless shelter in December 1984, at the former firehouse (located in the parking lot between Bartaco and National Hall). That event was debated. But the moral leadership of Reverend Ted Hoskins, Rabbi Bob Orkand and businessman James Bacharach (Dolores’ husband), plus the town support of 1st selectman Bill Seiden, human services director Barbara Butler and David Kennedy, tamped much of the controversy.

A few years later, as Arthur Tauck was redeveloping National Hall into an inn, the move to Jesup Road — catty-corner from the police station — made sense.

Many hands helped make the new 15-bed home possible. (Who knew the toilets were rescued from a home that Phil Donohue was razing?) A 5-bed facility for women — Hoskins Place — was build next to the men’s shelter, when the transit district office moved.

Over the years, the Gillespie Center’s conversion from a beat-up old building to a well-maintained shelter has enhanced the look of the entire area.

The Gillespie Center today.

The Gillespie Center today.

The frontage on Jesup Road near Matsu Sushi, the gardens maintained for years by Jed Ringel and repointing of the brickwork by Brooks Sumberg are visible to all.

Less visible is what goes on inside. But the men and women who seek shelter there — and others who use the very active food pantry — know and appreciate the hard work and tremendous care lavished on the Gillespie Center by many in town over the past 25 years.

Jeff Wieser quotes a friend from Virginia. After touring Homes With Hope’s 10 properties in Westport — the organization supports a lot more than the Gillespie Center — and winding up downtown, he said: “You must be the only town in America with a homeless shelter 2 doors from Tiffany!”

The Gillespie Center  has never lacked for volunteers. (Or — proving that Westport is no different from the real world — clients).

Westporters of all ages volunteer at the Gillespie Center.

Westporters of all ages volunteer at the Gillespie Center.

One of those volunteers was Jim Marpe. Today he’s the latest in a long line of 1st selectmen to support the Gillespie Center. Twenty years ago, he helped stock the pantry, serve meals and clean up.

That’s the kind of support the Gillespie Center has enjoyed for 25 years. If you’re looking for controversy — or a story about an affluent suburb that shunned its homeless — stay away from 45 Jesup Road. You won’t find it there.

All you’ll see are beds, meals, and Westport’s support for our fellow humans, down on their luck.

(For more information on the Gillespie Center and Homes With Hope, click here.)

 

 

Who You Gonna Call? EMS Always Responds

As I arranged a 4-hour ridealong with Westport’s Emergency Medical Service, officials warned: There are days when absolutely nothing happens. Be prepared to sit.

A mid-April Wednesday was not one of those days.

I had just walked into the EMS hallway, next to police headquarters, when the call came in: a 34-year-old male with chest pains, at a Post Road store.

Deputy director Marc Hartog shepherded me into his fly car. He pulled out of the bay, hit the siren — and I watched in amazement as an impatient Imperial Avenue driver tried to cut him off.

Welcome to Westport, and the unsung world of our EMTs.

Westport EMS has 3 ambulances. They are shiny on the outside -- and very impressive inside.

Westport EMS has 3 ambulances. They are shiny on the outside — and very impressive inside.

Police and firefighters were first on the scene, as they often are. But the paramedics took over, reassuring their patient while taking a medical history, providing oxygen and placing him on a stretcher.

The ambulance’s interior resembled a boat or plane: well-stocked, with no wasted space. As we headed to Norwalk Hospital, a paid paramedic and 2 volunteers worked efficiently. They checked vital signs, administered nitroglycerin and baby aspirin, communicated with the emergency room, and obtained insurance information.

That saved crucial minutes. When we arrived the patient was transported quickly inside, and hospital staff took over. Total time, from receiving the call to leaving Norwalk for the trip home: 38 minutes.

I learned a lot watching EMS in action. They’ve got a very intriguing story — and it’s one not many Westporters know.

WVEMSThere are actually 2 parts to Westport’s emergency medical services. “EMS” includes 6 paid full-time paramedics who are town employees, and a contracted Norwalk Hospital paramedic on duty 24/7.

Approximately 120 others — all unpaid — comprise our Volunteer Emergency Medical Services. They are students, business executives, attorneys, housewives, retirees and more.

The oldest volunteer — Jay Paretzky — is 72. He takes 2 shifts a week, and teaches nearly every CPR class. In the 1st 3 months of this year, he worked 400 hours for WVEMS.

The youngest volunteers are 29 high school students, part of an Explorer post. They undergo the same extensive training as the older volunteers, and perform nearly all the same tasks. (It’s not all adrenaline-inducing. They restock ambulances and write reports too.)

The initial EMT certification class involves 200 hours of classroom and practical work. Re-certification — with another 30 hours of refresher classes, and a state exam — takes place every 3 years. There’s in-service training every month, too.

Rebecca Kamins (left) acts as a "patient" during EMS training.

Rebecca Kamins (left) and Whitney Riggio act as “patients” during EMS training. Learning proper procedures are Christian Renne (left) and Zach Klomberg.

The paramedic program takes 2,000 hours, spread over 18 to 24 months. It includes clinical rotations in hospital settings. Every month, paramedics complete 4 hours of continuing education.

In other words: The guys (and gals) who take care of us know exactly what they’re doing.

Yves Cantin is a WVEMS volunteer. The father of 3 children, he takes a 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. shift every Wednesday and Friday. He spends many more hours as the organization’s treasurer.

Why does he do it?

“There a good feeling of helping the community,” he says. “It’s rewarding to deliver care that’s needed.”

Cantin has learned that despite Westport’s affluent image, our town is filled with a variety of physical and emotional needs.

He adds, “I’ve made friends through EMS. And I learn something on every call.”

EMS volunteers and paramedics (from left) Larry Kleman, Yves Cantin, Kevin Doherty, Marc Hartog, Rich Baumblatt, Joe Pravder and Aaron Greenspun stand ready, outside the ambulance garage behind the headquarters they share with Westport police.

EMS volunteers and paramedics (from left) Larry Kleman, Yves Cantin, Kevin Doherty, Marc Hartog, Rich Baumblatt, Joe Pravder and Aaron Greenspun stand ready, outside the ambulance garage behind the headquarters shared with Westport police.

EMS has 3 ambulances, 3 SUV fly cars, and a fleet of light-and-siren-equipped bicycles for staffing crowd-heavy events. EMS responds to 7 or 8 calls a day — that’s 2500 times a year — from Westport residences, schools, stores, offices, beaches, as well as incidents at our nursing home, Hall-Brooke, and on I-95 and the Merritt.

The town pays for the basics. But — in addition to volunteering their services — WVEMS fundraises for an astonishing array of equipment. They not only buy the ambulances ($190,000 each), but also an expanded $85,000 ambulance bay; the $20,000 stretchers that lift patients automatically into the backs of ambulances, and nearly everything in each ambulance, from child immobilization devices to stair carriers. (With 3 ambulances, they need 3 of everything.)

Monitors and other equipment fill the back of each ambulance.

Monitors and other equipment fill the back of each ambulance.

The net cost to Westport is small indeed. The value is priceless.

“Without our passionate paid staff, and the thousands of hours WVEMS puts in — including fundraising — we couldn’t do this,” Hartog says.

(What fundraising? A low-key annual letter, sent to Westport residents. No hard sell here — even though their service deserves it.)

EMS does not miss much. They rotate ambulances on every call. Reducing wear helps them last 10 years, far more than the national average. Ambulances are plugged in after each use, ensuring that batteries running the many medical devices stay charged.

Hartog — whose first encounter with emergency medicine came at Columbia University, when he took a first-aid class to get out of a gym requirement — says that every day is different.

“Some calls are really routine. The next time though, you have to make a split-second decision. Someone’s life is in your hands.”

EMS deputy director Marc Hartog.

EMS deputy director Marc Hartog.

Hartog, Cantin and paramedic Rick Baumblatt — also on duty the day I was there — recall the satisfaction of receiving a letter from a man or woman (or child) who was almost dead.

The family of a skateboarder with major head trauma sends a fruit basket every year. Another family — whose elderly relative was brought back from full cardiac arrest — thanks EMS often for giving them an extra 6 years together.

For the rest of us, there are 2 things we can do for our emergency medical staff.

We can say “thank you” whenever we see them.

And when that fundraising letter comes, we can give generously to EMS.

Because — paid or volunteer — they give very generously to us.

 

 

Putting The “Sound” In 17 Soundview Drive

Ginger Baker sent a drum set to the house. Peter Frampton lounged on the front deck. Carly Simon wanted to buy it.

Those are just a few of the musical memories associated with 17 Soundview Drive. It’s one of the most handsome homes lining the Compo exit road, drawing admiring glances from walkers and sunbathers for its beachside gracefulness.

If only they knew the musical history hidden throughout the property.

17 Soundview Drive.

17 Soundview Drive.

It was built — like the rest of the neighborhood — as a summer house in 1918. One of Frank Lloyd Wright’s students designed it, ensuring harmony with the beach environment.

Francis Bosco — current owner Gail Cunningham Coen’s grandfather — bought it in 1928. A Sicilian immigrant and lover of opera, he tuned in every Saturday to NBC Radio’s live Met broadcasts. For years the voices of Enrico Caruso, Maria Callas, Robert Merrill and others soared from the living room, under the awnings and onto the beach, thrilling neighbors and passersby.

In 1982 Gail and her husband Terry Coen bought the house. She’s a musician and music teacher; he’s a songwriter and music promoter. Over the past 32 years they’ve lavished love on it. It was one of the 1st Compo homes to be raised, to protect against storms. It’s been beautifully renovated inside. The Coens also added a secluded rooftop deck, and flower and vegetable gardens.

You can see the water from nearly every room in the house. This is the living room.

You can see the water from nearly every room in the house. This is the living room.

But the professionally designed, fully soundproofed music studio is what really rocks.

It — and the chance to hang out privately, yet in the middle of all the beach action — has made 17 Soundview a home away from home for 3 decades of musical royalty.

Ginger Baker spent many evenings talking about the birth of British rock, touring with Eric Clapton, and his childhood in England during World War II. He also recited some very bawdy limericks. In return, he gave Ludwig drums to Soundview Studios.

Ginger Baker, and his drums. (Photo/Wikipedia)

Ginger Baker, and his drums. (Photo/Wikipedia)

Peter Frampton brought his young family. They loved the warm summer breeze, and being able to sit anonymously just a few feet from the hubbub of a beach afternoon.

One summer day, Carly Simon said she was thinking of buying a beach house. #17 was her favorite, because it reminded her so much of Martha’s Vineyard.

Meat Loaf played Sunday morning softball at Compo. After, he headed to the Coens’. One day, he played his next single on the roof deck. No one on the beach could see he was there — but they heard him. At the end, everyone applauded.

The Remains reunited for the 1st time in decades in the studio. (Full disclosure: I was there. It was one of the most magical moments of my life.)

Eric von Schmidt loved to sing by the fireplace, and joined jam sessions in the studio. One day, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott rambled over with him.

Other regulars included Jimi Hendrix’s bass player Noel Redding; Corky Laing and Leslie West of Mountain; former Buddy Miles Express front man Charlie Karp; Eric Schenkman of the Spin Doctors, and guitarist/producer/songwriter Danny Kortchmar.

17 Soundview - roof deck

The rooftop deck is a great place to watch fireworks. It’s also where Meat Loaf played his next single, to the unknowing delight of a Compo Beach crowd.

Some of those musicians — and plenty other great ones, though less known — were guests at the Coens’ annual July 4th fireworks parties. The food and drinks were fantastic, capped off by watching the passing parade on Soundview.

But the real action happened when the fireworks ended. Everyone piled into the studio, and jammed till the sun came up.

From Caruso to the Spin Doctors, 17 Soundview Drive has seen it all. If only those walls could talk (or sing).

It’s on the market now, ready for the next gig. For Westport’s sake, I hope the new owners understand the home’s history. I hope they realize how the place has sheltered so many artists, and helped their creative spirits grow.

And though Brian Wilson was one of the few musicians not to hang out at 17 Soundview Drive — well, I don’t think he did — I hope whoever buys this beautiful, wondrous property will “get” its longtime, way cool and very good vibrations.

(Interested in buying the house? Click here for details.)
 
 

 

Westport’s Oral Histories: A True Hidden Treasure

It’s easy to overlook the tab at the top of the Westport Historical Society website.

“Oral History,” it says. You probably figure it provides a bit of info about whatever oral histories the WHS has collected.

But clicking it reveals nearly a dozen videos — all on YouTube, all waiting to provide 10-minute-to-an-hour chunks of intriguing Westport history. (Another 300 oral histories are on audiotape only.)

On camera, Jo Fox Brosious remembers the (thankfully successful) 1960′s fight to save Cockenoe Island from becoming a nuclear power plant. Close-to-centenarians Lee Greenberg and Elwood Betts recall the Westport of even longer ago.

(Click here if Katie Chase’s interview with Elwood Betts does not load directly from YouTube.)

Former police chief Ron Malone and former fire chief Harry Audley share stories. Shirley Mellor sits in Max’s Art Supplies, describing the importance of the store to Westport’s artists’ colony.

Other oral histories explore our literary heritage, community garden, oystering and more.

Each year, the Historical Society runs a tour of Westport’s hidden gardens. Visitors to Wheeler House — the WHS’ historic home across from Town Hall — constantly revel in the surprises they find there.

These oral histories are one more treasure — hidden in plain sight, at the top of their site.

(Click here to go directly to the Westport Historical Society’s Oral History page. Videos are also available for puchase, at $10 each.)

(Click here if Allen Raymond’s interview of Ron Malone does not load directly from YouTube.)

 

As Warm Weather Arrives…

…it’s always a good idea to walk your unicycle across the street.

Unicycle

Hat tip to JP Vellotti for the photo and text.

The Art Studio Flings Open Its Doors

For 364 days a year, Helen Werngren’s art studio is open to the public by appointment only.

On 1 day, she welcomes everyone.

That day this year is Friday, April 25 (noon-8 p.m.). It’s well worth noting.

Helen Werngren

Helen Werngren

The studio — called (why not?) “The Art Studio” — is a loft at 170 Post Road West (next to Peachwave). Helen opened it in 2008, fulfilling a longtime vision of a creative community centered on a collaborative studio space. She even had an old enamel sign — “Entree des Artistes” — she’d bought years ago in Paris, hoping some day to use it.

Today The Art Studio thrives. It’s filled with paintings, prints and mixed media works. Eight talented artists (including Helen) work on their own schedule — and find community — there.

Helen’s sense of community reaches beyond the studio walls. She and her husband David Ross — a native Westporter — support Neighborhood Studios of Fairfield County. Part of the proceeds of their art sales help send Bridgeport youngsters to summer camps and after-school programs.

Helen’s once-a-year openings are true events. Perhaps she should think of changing the name from the generic “The Art Studio” to something a bit more colorful.

Like “Brigadoon.”

The Art Studio.

The Art Studio (obviously), 170 Post Road West.

 

 

 

Jean Paul Desrosiers’ Unfathomable Moroccan Marathons

This is getting ridiculous.

First, “06880″ reported on David Friezo’s attempt to raise $500,000 for cancer victims by running a marathon at the North Pole.

Then it was Yaacov Mutnikas, who rowed across the Atlantic Ocean  – and set a world record in the process.

I hope you are sitting down for this next one — though Jean Paul Desrosiers certainly was not.

The owner of Westport’s Sherpa Fitness Center has just returned from Morocco. He competed in the Marathon des Sables — only “the toughest footrace on earth,” according to the Discovery Channel.

Jean Paul Desrosiers marathon des sables

How tough?

Desrosiers ran — no, raced — 156 miles in 5 days. That’s the equivalent of 6 marathons.

He did it across 10-story-high sand dunes, in temperature reaching 130 degrees.

While carrying all his food and a sleeping bag on his back.

I’m exhausted just typing that.

“I’ve always been an outdoor enthusiast,” the 39-year-old Weston resident says. “I like to push boundaries. I believe life happens on the edges of your comfort zone.”

That philosophy has made Sherpa Fitness — on the Post Road, across from Athletic Shoe Factory — a very popular gym (among a certain type of clientele, to be sure). Its tagline is “Move Your Boundaries.”

Jean Paul Desrosiers looks like a normal human being.  But he is not.

Jean Paul Desrosiers looks like a normal human being. But he is not.

It’s also the philosophy that saw Desrosiers through 6 years in the Marine Corps, starting at age 19, and propelled him later into college as an exercise science major, a career as a semi-pro cyclist, and helped him run 4 marathons and 1 ultramarathon.

But the Marathon des Sables is an ultra-uber-unbelievable marathon.

Desrosiers did the entire race on just 17,000 calories. Carrying all his gear, every ounce was important. He used dehydrated food — and then repackaged it in vacuum bags. Shaving a few grams here and there could end up saving a full pound. Running 156 miles over sand, rocks and gravel — there were no asphalt roads — every ounce counts.

Desrosiers did bring 100 salt tablets. They were key to keeping his electrolytes up.  Race organizers provided water — but not a lot. And it wasn’t even quenching. “Hot and dry,” Desrosiers calls it.

He began training in October. But when winter came, the Polar Vortex hit. Not exactly the best way to prepare for a desert that’s 110 in the shade.

So Desrosiers stuffed a backpack with 28 pounds of rock salt, and hit the treadmill. As he got stronger, he ran with the pack on roads.

When the race drew nearer, he turned the heat in a Sherpa room up to 90, added a space heater, and rode a stationary bike for 90 minutes. “It helped, but it wasn’t perfect,” he says.

He also ran on Sherwood Island. The snow helped him practice his footing on difficult terrain.

Jean Paul Desrosiers, pausing very briefly in Morocco.

Jean Paul Desrosiers, pausing very briefly in Morocco.

Once in Africa, reality hit quickly. There was brutal heat, dry air, strong wind, and the biggest dunes Desrosiers had ever seen. And, with 1100 runners in such soft sand, it took a long time to get through.

As difficult as the physical race was — and boy, does it sound daunting — the emotional part was equally tough.

“You can’t prepare fully for the reality of knowing you have to survive with just what you’ve got,” he notes.

Still, he adds, “If I’d never done anything before, I wouldn’t have believed I could do this. You can’t start 12th grade without having gone through 1st grade.”

Desrosiers trusted in his ability to adapt. The human body, he says, is “pretty dynamic.” But the overwhelmingness of new stimuli shattered even some hardened competitors. Day after day, many racers dropped out.

Day after day too, the pack got lighter — and Desorsiers lost weight. But the temperature did not drop. His feet blistered. Fatigue set in.

What kept him moving were emails from home. Each night, race organizers handed printouts to the racers. Knowing people in Westport were thinking of him “made more difference than any food or drink,” Desrosiers says.

He did not expect to win. But each day he finished in the top third. He was sick on Day 4 — the double marathon, or more than 50 miles — but the next day he clocked in at 5:20, good for the top 200.

A scene from the 2013 Marathon des Sables.

A scene from the 2013 Marathon des Sables.

Desrosiers completed the entire 156 miles at #303. “I was surprised,” he says, using the same tone I would to describe a movie that was better than I expected.

The end affected him, though. He’d expended enormous physical and emotional energy. He was exhausted, dehydrated, overheated and blistered. His back was marked, where his pack dug in.

Then Desrosiers crossed the finish line, and it was all over.

No one was there to congratulate him. He ended the race as he’d begun it: alone.

Desrosiers walked to his tent, dropped his gear off, and headed to the medical area to get his feet looked at. Then he returned to the finish line, to watch the others straggle in.

Jean Paul Desrosiers earned this -- the very hard way.

Jean Paul Desrosiers earned this — the very hard way.

When we talked earlier this week, he’d been home only a couple of days. Besides his girlfriend, he had not talked about the experience with anyone.

“You learn a lot about yourself when you’re uncomfortable,” Desrosiers says. “You persevere, you look forward, you’re happy you got through it.

“This is not a carnival. It’s hell.”

Back in Westport, he’s not sure what his next challenge is. Right now, he’s happy to focus on Sherpa.

But, he notes, “I’m fitter, I’m stronger, I’m lighter. Hopefully, I can inspire people to do things they didn’t think they could do.”

Even if they’re not things you or I would have believed were humanly possible.