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John and trainers in fitness room

John Starts on a New Path to Wellness

For John, age 77, there’s so much to love about the theater. But, at the top of his list would be this: It brings people together.

At its core, theater is a collaborative effort—every production involves people working together to share a story.

That’s why John dedicated his professional career to building his community as an educator, drama specialist, and thespian director. And he’s touched so many lives along the way.

One of John’s most significant honors was his role in creating and operating a children’s theater company. The program served over a quarter-million students and earned the title of Outstanding Children’s Theater Program in Indiana.

John has also shared his expertise and passion by serving as a mentor to many students. He’s proud that many have stayed in the industry, including successful actors and Emmy award-winning producers.

After many years of helping others push their boundaries and discover new talents, John wants to do the same for himself—to seize an opportunity to improve himself in this stage of his life.

For some time, John realized that regular exercise was missing in his life. He knows that exercise benefits physical health, but also that it has positive effects on mental and social-emotional health. But John was overwhelmed and didn’t know where to begin, and like so many, he did not feel confident using exercise equipment alone.

He wished to work with a personal trainer to start on a path toward healthier living. John’s nominator Katrina, the community director at his home, knew how much this would mean to John, and the positive impact exercise would have on his life.

When Wish of a Lifetime heard John’s story, we jumped at the opportunity to recognize him and help him fulfill his commitment to self-care. To start John on a path to wellness, we connected him with Renee and Justin, employees of a local fitness center just a few minutes away from John’s home.

Before jumping into any activity, the group sat down to create an individualized plan to help John reach his health and wellness goals. They talked about his current health and how to begin exercising safely. Finally, with a plan in place, John began learning how to use different exercise equipment and tools.

Feeling equipped to begin working towards his new goals, John began training with Renee, who commented on his energetic and positive attitude. Everything in his sessions has been going smoothly, and John feels invigorated and optimistic about embracing this new challenge. He said that “Renee is an angel,” and is enjoying the company of the new people he has met at the gym.

And the feeling is mutual. When John invited the staff from the fitness center to attend bingo in his community, they gladly participated in the fun. And Renee has even become a regular volunteer Bingo caller!

John’s commitment to learning a new skill and setting goals for himself is an inspiration to people of all ages. He hopes his wish story can help disrupt society’s preconceptions about the abilities of older adults.

“We must not fall to stereotyping just because of age and health challenges,” John said. “This experience has decodified what you can and cannot do.”

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