Meet the 2012 TEAM ICL Runners!
| David Kamnitzer
| Shane Konrad
| Francis Rogalle
| Lisa Walker
| Gregory Andrews
| Kevin Gray
||“Life has its ups and downs, but music levels it out for me,” explains Tyric Cuff, a 25 year-old who lives in a scattered-site apartment in the Crowns Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. After a childhood filled with the unpredictability and instability of six different foster care homes an emerging serious mental illness, Tyric has accomplished much.
“As a kid, I was never confrontational. When the anger got too big, I’d fill my backpack with CDs and walk from Bay Shore to Brentwood. It usually took two towns to calm down.,” he recalls. “Walking, music, writing my own songs – all that’s therapy to me. Now add running a second marathon to that list!” he grins proudly.
Fellow TEAM ICL member and Tyric’s mentor, David Kamnitzer, a senior vice president at ICL, recommended that he join the team last year. Tyric shares, “David has my back, encourages me to take on challenges and reminds me to take care of myself. He and ICL have supported my views and what I want to pursue.”
Tyric is appreciative of the help he’s received on his way towards adulthood and makes it a priority to give back, whether it’s on the basketball court with a youth in Westchester that he’s mentoring or when accompanying David on ICL speaking engagements at conferences and at different agencies. “ICL taught me how to listen, not just with open ears but with an open heart. Helping others is one of the reasons I’m running. I want youth to know there is no such thing as impossibilities. Even if something doesn’t fly the way I wanted to, at least I know that I tried my hardest.”
While David and ICL believe that Tyric’s marathon involvement is phenomenal, regardless of how far and fast he runs, for Tyric, his goal is to finish it for a second time. “I’m pushing to finish it once again. Last year, I didn’t get off my couch for three days after the marathon and swore I never would run again. But here I am, looking forward to running in this year’s race. I’m getting my mind disciplined, since a lot of this is a mental thing.”
Tyric’s Marathon Tip: “There’s a temptation coming out from the starting line to follow other runners’ breathing and pace. Some may have longer or shorter legs than yours, others may have an ability to breathe deeper. What works for them may not work for you. Learn what strategy and techniques are best for you and make you the most comfortable in accomplishing your goal(s), in the marathon, as well as in life.”
||Already an ING NYC Marathoner twice over, David Kamnitzer is looking forward to his third marathon as a key runner on TEAM ICL.
As ICL Senior Vice President, Adult Mental Health Services, Brooklyn, David touches the lives of hundreds of adults and families – helping them to identify and hone strengths that they may never have realized before. For David, “The consumers and staff at ICL are part of my extended family. I believe in our mission and giving back to others. Running on TEAM ICL is a natural extension of that.”
He is a prodigious lecturer on issues relating to mental illness and subjects ranging from cognitive remediation to risk management. He is a strong proponent of strengths-based practice and motivational interviewing techniques, and his voice rings strong on behalf of those still struggling to find their own.
David has over twenty years of experience in the field of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Social Work at New York University, Silver School of Social Work, and a board member of the Supported Housing Network of New York. His most recent area of research has been around the area of Intimacy and Social Relations with consumers with severe and persistent mental illness. David is a staunch advocate on behalf of young adults and serves on the State Consortium to meet this population’s unique needs. He explains, “The transition from teen to adult is challenging – add in a foster care experience and other hurdles, and the need for thoughtful support is immense.”
Running enables David to transcend “the hustle and noise of the city into a zone of peace and calm.” It helps him “to maintain a balance between healthy mind and body.” He has been a runner for over 20 years and loves running on the west side of Manhattan along the Espanade, which spans lower Manhattan to the George Washington Bridge.
David is active with the New York Road Runners Club and is already running four times each week. “My best time is a 7:40 mile – now it’s time to break my personal best.”
As 2010 and 2011’s top TEAM ICL fund raiser, his best is already mighty good, and the team is fortunate to have him!
David’s Marathon Tip: “The marathon, to me, is such an incredible experience. Try to cherish every moment of it, beginning the evening before and remember to get the right food and proper sleep the evening of November 3rd.”
||Last year, despite an injury that prevented Shane Konrad, MD, from running the 2011 ING NYC Marathon, he raised over $2,500 for TEAM ICL. Presently, he is carefully building up his strength and endurance in preparation for running this November on TEAM ICL.
Shane is no marathon novice. In 2008, he ran the NYC Half Marathon and was “bitten by the running bug." He then completed the 2008 ING NYC Marathon while raising over $3000 for a nonprofit that helps cancer patients. This year he wants to run faster with a goal of 3:45 and raise more funds to help a nonprofit that’s closer to his field of interest.
Shane is a psychiatrist with an interest in working with indigent and vulnerable patient populations. He is a unit chief for the inpatient forensic psychiatry service at Bellevue Hospital Center and cares for mentally ill prisoners from Rikers Island. He is also an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine and has a private practice in general and forensic psychiatry.
While in the NYU public psychiatry program, he met Dr. Peter C. Campanelli, founder, CEO and president, ICL, and Jeanie Tse, MD, Director of Integrated Health, ICL, and learned about the remarkable strides ICL was making in assisting consumers, including some of his patient population. “Anytime you can volunteer your time or raise money for charity, it’s a positive experience – it’s even more so for me in supporting an agency that directly helps some of the patients that I care for in the hospital. I’m proud and excited to be on TEAM ICL.”
Constantly looking for challenges in his personal and professional life, Shane explains, “I enjoy challenging myself with difficult tasks…you can really learn a lot about yourself by pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. As painful as it can sometime be, I find that I gain confidence in myself even when I don't necessarily achieve my ultimate goal.”
For Shane, it’s not just the distance of the marathon that is intriguing. “Completing a marathon not only requires months of diligence to train properly, but it also requires an intelligent strategy to overcome the psychological, physiological, and environmental challenges inherent to running 26.2 miles throughout New York City.” He continues, “It’s painful, but when I hit 'the wall,’ and push through it, it’s an amazing feeling – at this point in the race, I feel like I could run forever.”
The dedication and knowledge needed to complete a marathon could serve as an analogy to the discipline needed by those living with a severe mental illness. “Our patients have to learn how to cope with their chronic illness, which requires persistence in overcoming various psychological, physiological and environmental challenges. They need to understand the importance of lifelong medications, diet and mental health care in order to stay healthy and succeed in their own personal marathon."
Shane’s training tip: “Since your body needs about three weeks to repair before the big day, be careful not to go overboard with your training and injure yourself. Also, for marathon day, bring cheap sweats that you can wear to the starting line. You'll be waiting in cold weather for hours, so it's nice to have warm clothes that you can shed right before the start and leave behind. And, you’re doing a good thing – all left over clothes are donated to charity organizations.”
For Francis Rogalle, running the marathon is a family thing. “My sister ran in the NYC marathon once; Dad ran in the first full marathon ever held in Long Island; and my cousin ran in three NYC marathons.” Despite the challenge of oversized familial footsteps, Francis has a secret booster, “My wife Lisa and my three children (Emily 11, Brendan 9 and Sean 7) are cheering me along every step of the way during training and at the marathon.”
It’s not just his family that’s in his corner, it’s his entire company. He works as a director in Account Management at Corporate Synergies Group, one of the nation’s leading employee benefits brokers and consulting firms, will be training and running with Francis on TEAM ICL. The 200+ staff members are rallying around Francis, as well as one of his colleagues and TEAM ICL runners, Greg Andrews, with words of encouragement and in their fundraising efforts on behalf of ICL.
While Francis has not worked directly on his company’s account with ICL, he has heard “plenty of positive things. ICL has a pretty powerful mission, and I’d like to be a part of that. Corporate Synergies supports ICL’s work behind the scenes every day – this is simply supporting it in a different way. I’m proud to help ICL raise a decent amount of money, which in turn will motivate the people they assist to lead healthier lives.”
Keeping active is part of Francis’ core. “I love the outdoors; I love sports; I love staying fit. I’ve run in numerous 5K races, 10K races, and I’ve run in the Long Island one-half marathon six times. I’ve always wanted to run the NYC marathon, and now I have my chance through ICL.” Francis also volunteers as a coach in various sports to help youth, as well as spend more time with his own. “Most importantly, I love spending time with my wife and kids, family and friends.”
His training regime began at the end of June, which includes preparing for a mid-August sprint triathlon (one-half mile swim, 10m biking and a 5k run). His daughter has signed up to do junior triathlon the day after his competition, and his wife has upped her fitness workouts too. Francis explains, “being healthy is important to our family.”
Running the marathon is a dream come true. “I want to challenge myself to see if I can do it and want to show my kids, family members and friends that if you put your mind to it and push yourself, you can accomplish anything. My motto is ‘don’t be afraid, just go out and do it.’”
Francis’ training tip: “The best way to successfully run the marathon is positive thinking. Tell yourself ‘You can do it.’ Stick to a game plan and see it all the way through. It’s what I tell my kids regarding school and in the ball field…do the best you can.”
||“There’s still stigma attached to mental illness. It’s why I don’t usually share my own experience with it,” says Lisa J. Walker whose mother was diagnosed with serious mental illness when Lisa was 14. “I’m running for my mother, for people with psychiatric disorders, for family members like myself and for my five-year-old daughter, Avery, who will always know that someone’s there for her.”
Since she was a little girl in Massachusetts, every day has been a battle for this TEAM ICL runner. “Everything was a secret. I didn’t have many friends in my life because of mom’s situation.” Lisa quickly discovered that when she did share what was happening, people did not believe her and even professionals let her down. “Everyone vanishes. They feel bad for you but they don’t do anything. It takes a toll.” Despite the challenges she continues to overcome, Lisa is a strong, determined woman who wants to make a difference in others’ lives.
When Lisa decided to run the NYC Marathon this year, she wanted to bring a spotlight to mental illness. She researched charities, but could not find anything that resonated until she came across an announcement from ICL that one running spot remained. “It felt like a light shined down. I’ve never came in contact with anyone else who has had an experience like mine. The thought that there is an organization that supports families while helping people with mental illness is amazing. To raise money for ICL, even if it helps just one person, brings tears to my eyes.”
This will be Lisa’s second marathon; her first was in 2003 when she was about to graduate from college and seeking inner strength. “I didn’t know what I was capable of doing until the second I finished the marathon. I suddenly had so much confidence and was so proud that I was able to pull it off.”
Lisa, a Production Specialist at the National Captioning Institute in Chantilly, Virginia, learned an important lesson during her first marathon. “I didn’t train for it -- bad mistake -- but was able to finish in five hours. In the beginning of the race, I tried to keep up with the other runners. I realized that wasn’t going to happen when an elderly man passed me. This time, I will squeeze in as much training as I can -- in and around spending quality time with my ‘little one.’”
While Lisa runs three miles occasionally, she doesn’t consider herself a long distance runner. “It takes a lot for me to do this marathon voluntarily. Yet, I would run it three times in row if it could help someone.” She shares “The fact that I am going to finish the marathon actually doesn’t matter. Today, I’ve already accomplished what I needed to accomplish. I finally came across a group of people -- an organization -- that believes what I believe… frankly I didn’t think they were out there.”
Lisa’s Marathon Tip: Be motivated by something that is bigger than yourself. Calling attention to mental illness is the motivation that will get me through.
“I was roped into this,” grins Greg Andrews as he recalls how his friend and co-worker, Francis Rogalle, at Corporate Synergies Group, playfully pushed him into joining TEAM ICL 2012 as a runner. “I’ve never run a marathon before, just many 5k and 10k races, but how could I turn this opportunity down?”
Greg is a senior vice president at one of the nation’s leading employee benefits brokers and consulting firms. Corporate Synergies helps ICL contain healthcare costs, stay in compliance with its health and welfare plans and supports its Human Resources department and employees with a host of services.
"Our team is very proud to have ICL as a client. We’ve been working together for about six years, and I’m continually touched by its mission. There is not one of us who isn’t touched in some way by alcohol or drug abuse or by mental illness within our circle, whether it’s family, friends or neighbors. ICL helps the most vulnerable people in our society.”
On running on TEAM ICL, Greg shares, “It’s more meaningful and motivating for me to be running for ICL than simply running a marathon as a ‘macho’ thing. I’m raising money and helping, which is what it’s all about. On the other hand…that doesn’t take away my bragging rights as soon as I cross that finish line. I’m telling everyone!”
Greg’s routine includes a number of variations, but ultimately focuses on building up strength while avoiding injury and exhaustion. “I’m really listening to my body. There’s a school of thought that a combination of running and walking is the best approach. It works. I’m really listening to my body. If I’m up for running four miles one day, great; if on the next I can only run for one mile and walk three miles, that’s fine too. I’m making sure that I take off some time to let my body heal and build strength.”
The marathon represents a focused reminder of what is important in life. “It’s too easy to become caught up in the peripheral things in our lives -- like work and material things and forgetting about focusing in on something as meaningful as running a marathon to support the work of ICL.”
Greg’s training tip: “Focus beyond simply running long distances; anything you can do to relax your body is important. Make sure to sleep enough, stretch before and after run, practice a nutritious and careful diet and cook at home. Also, do some cross training to keep your back and stomach in shape.”
For Kevin Gray, Director, Buildings and Grounds, Developmental Disabilities Institute, he can handle the 26 miles, but it’s the first one or two miles that pose the challenge. “Getting started is the hard part. My best miles are at the 8th and the 16th -- that’s when I really enjoy it.”
In fact, life revolves around family and running. Kevin ran through his honeymoon. He recalls a moment in Florence when he was on one of his many sneakered jaunts through the back streets and fairs, “As I was running I happened to see a tour bus, and there was my wife, Tina, who’d given me a “free day’s pass” from our expedition agenda. I waved as I ran alongside the bus. I think that I saw more of Italy than she did!”
While he and his wife enjoy long walks together, Kevin runs with his three children, Kevin 15, Nicole 13 and Rachel 11. “My kids and I like the bonding time together, although they may not truly love the running,” he chuckles. His on-the-sly daydream? Instead of a Sweet 16 party, “maybe the kids would be willing to instead, travel to Ireland…” Kevin, of course, would be enjoying the sights and sounds via his pavement pounding.
Clearly Kevin loves running and has several full and half marathons under his belt. Sometimes he trains with his son and daughter’s former junior high coach who is an “ultra marathoner” and runs 60 and 100 mile races. That’s where Kevin puts on the brakes; his maximum is a mere 26 miles.
On and off again over the past five years, Kevin has tried to enter the NYC Marathon, but has never landed a lottery ticket. It was only when his architect and TEAM ICL sponsor, Vassalotti Associates Architects, mentioned that ICL had an available spot, that Kevin finally realized one of his dreams.
Regarding his preparation for the marathon, he projects. “After running 5 and 10Ks every Monday evening throughout the summer, running the same lengths at 8AM on Sundays during the fall and following the basic training schedule on the Marathon site, I’ll be ready.” He adds, “I keep a positive outlook and don’t underestimate the benefit of adrenaline and endorphins.”
Kevin’s marathon tip #1: “The marathon is 80 percent mental. I concentrate on the next mile and then the one after it – I try not to think about the many miles between where I may be and the finish line.”
Kevin’s marathon tip #2: “The training is just as memorable as the race, so enjoy both.”
Kevin’s marathon tip #3: “Remember to appreciate the sacrifice your family has made in supporting your training. It will have taken a lot to cross that finish line out on Sunday, but you didn’t do it alone. To my own family, thank you.”