Seventy year old Ed Slaymaker has been a volunteer fire policeman since he was fourteen years old, keeping him on the move for decades. However, a staggering number of health issues – including six heart attacks and three bouts with cancer – have taken their toll over the years. Additionally, Ed was in a serious car accident in 2003 that left him in a coma for thirty-five days. “Even after coming out of the coma, my surgeon told me to reach out to loved ones, because I was surely close to death,” shared Ed, who astonished his doctors, family and friends with his survival.
As he had done for many years as a member of the Lancaster Township Fire Department, Ed volunteered at the 2012 Lancaster Family YMCA Duathlon. By that time Ed weighed 350 pounds and struggled just to get around. When Y CEO Jeff Kenderdine encountered him at the event, he took the opportunity to thank Ed for his contributions to the Y and supported his desire to improve his health by offering him a free trial membership and sessions with a Y personal coach.
In early 2013, Ed took his first steps toward recovering a way of life he thought he’d lost for good. City Center YMCA Health and Wellness Director Amanda McFerren worked with Ed to design a program that gradually introduced both cardiovascular exercise and strength training. Ed insists that “Mandy didn’t ease up on me,” and over the course of the year, Ed lost eighty pounds while gaining strength and confidence. Ed enjoys surprising family and friends with all he can do– at a family picnic, while kicking a soccer ball around the yard with his young grandsons, Ed joked that his daughter-in-law the Registered Nurse could rest easy because he was doing just fine.
He’s also made impressive progress with several health conditions. Arthritis and bursitis in his shoulders had significantly limited his range of motion, but regular workouts have greatly increased his flexibility in both his upper and lower body. A possible hip replacement surgery has now been postponed due to Ed’s dramatic weight loss. “Jeff and Amanda saved my life,” shares Ed – by telling him he could do it and helping him to discover how. Ed has learned how to properly push himself, while also respecting his limitations. Ed values the medical gains as well as the everyday triumphs, from giving up his cane (“who needs it?”) to walking (not riding) through the grocery store. After a recent visit to his cardiologist to address some temporary chest pain, Ed quickly asked “when can I go back to the Y?”