Maggie Rice just celebrated her 55th birthday, and nearly 45 years have passed since she has been a member of the YMCA. Although returning to the Y was exciting, Rice said it also came with challenges.
“I have worn many hats in the years between that little kid and who I am today,” she said. “I became a mom, a single mom and then a full time single mom university student. I got married and worked everything from waitressing, to being a Nurse’s Aide, to working with sheet metal.”
But Rice’s biggest challenge came in the fall of 2000. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis.
“My self-esteem fell lower with each day of countless prescription medications, pain and very little social life,” Rice said.
According to Rice, she fell into a rut.
“The bigger I got, the worse I felt emotionally.
But the Saint John Regional Y gave Rice a sense of strength.
“I wanted to join and promised myself I would.”
As the doors swung open on September 1st, 2016, Rice was in line to get her membership. Membership Representative, Suzanne McBay greeted her at the Welcome Desk. Rice now refers to Susie as her “Home Girl”, a nickname that has formed throughout a year of encouragement, love and being a member of the Y family.
The family love goes beyond the Welcome Desk at the Y, and Rice explained how the Fitness Coaches have cheered her on and helped her succeed.
“Ken has been amazing,” she said. “No matter what question I have, or how to work around my disabilities, he has the answers and solutions. I have met some amazing people, and because of them I have worked harder than I imagined and gained so much back. I no longer use a cane and I don’t fret about the track being so big anymore.”
Rice can be found at the Y with the early morning crew, engaging in what she likes to call Track Talk.
“It is through the encouragement of the staff at the Y, right from coming in the front door, to the other members who I love to laugh with, that I have managed to drop from a size 20 to a 14.”
But more importantly, Rice said she feels good about herself again, and she’s looking forward to continuing her journey at the YMCA.
“I’m not there yet, I have a way to go to reach my goals but for the first time in many years I can see myself improving and becoming the person I want to be,” she said. “This doesn’t mean I won’t have set backs. MS tends to do that to you, but I’m determined to keep up a fight and not let it keep me down anymore. There is such a good feeling going to a place every morning, eager to see the faces that help you to become a better person, and those who are working right alongside you to improve themselves too.”
“I really need to thank all those who inspire me to keep going and I need to appreciate myself too. I’ve come a long way.”
Rice’s story is just beginning. She has just welcomed a new member to her family and is now a Grandmother, which is just another reason Rice looks forward to continuing her healthy life at the Y.