On any given day, Denise Cunningham of Wilkes-Barre can be found pushing other people to their limits. As a fitness instructor at Leverage Fitness Studio in Kingston, that’s her job. With the right mix of spirit, toughness and energy, she inspires her clients to strive for their fitness goals.
Today, it’s one of Denise’s clients that are inspiring her to take her training to new heights. Denise is currently training for her first ever marathon, driven on by the example set by one woman; Sara Michaels.
A few years ago, Sara was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Despite the devastating diagnosis, she has worked hard to maintain her active lifestyle, committing to a rigorous physical therapy program at Heinz Rehab Center in Wilkes-Barre. Sara also benefits from using the Bioness L300, a device which delivers programmed, low-level electrical stimulation to activate the nerves and muscles in her right leg. Used in her daily life, the device helps the mother of two from Forty Fort to walk, run and workout with Denise, something that was an important part of her life prior to her diagnosis.
On November 2, 2014, Denise will take to the streets of New York City to compete in the TCS New York City Marathon. Although the prospect of running in the world’s largest footrace is daunting, Denise draws strength from Sara and the fact that her efforts will help others with a disability.
Denise is one of a team 35 runners, led by WNEP TV’s Ryan Leckey, running to raise funds and awareness for children and adults with disabilities at Allied Services. Over the past four years, the Ryan’s Run campaign has raised more than $900,000, enabling the non-profit healthcare provider to invest in the people, programs and technology that touch more than 5,000 lives in our area each day.
Pictured, from left: Jason Williams, Executive Vice President, Jack Williams Tire; Sara Michaels; Denise Cunningham, Ryan’s Run runner and fitness instructor, Leverage Fitness Studio; Tim Hlivia, owner/operator, Leverage Fitness Studio.