2020 ESSA Client of the Year Winner
ESSA is excited to announce Marianne Sykes as the 2020 ESSA Client of the Year, nominated by her Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Sophie Pacek from Healthy Connections Exercise Clinic.
“Marianne's mental strength and resilience are the defining qualities of her past and present successes,” explained Sophie to the ESSA team.
“In 2013, Marianne was diagnosed with dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that causes the muscles in the body to contract or spasm involuntarily. This left Marianne unable to walk and in a wheelchair. Unfortunately, it also meant that she had to move out of her and her husband, Don’s home, and into a residential aged care facility at the age of 53.”
When Marianne met Sophie in 2018 she told her, “I want to be walking in a year.” Through a tremendous amount of resilience and hard work, Marianne managed to walk again in just eight months. Marianne explained that it was, “the resilience to get from here to there” that willed her on.
“There wasn’t a plan, just an ‘I have to get out of here [the aged care facility] mentality’.”
Marianne then started going to the Healthy Connections Exercise Clinic twice a week. At that point, she was not able to walk and struggled to stand up unsupported.
“We started with seated exercises, and gradually over time, we got Marianne off a chair and onto a walker. As time went on, Marianne got off the walker and could walk unsupported. From there, Marianne reached her goal and was able to leave the aged care facility and move into a retirement village,” added Sophie.
After six months in the retirement village, Marianne made another tremendous milestone: she moved back into independent living with her husband.
“I’ve done a 360 with my life in the last five years,” said Marianne.
Now, at the age of 60-years-young, Marianne walks everywhere – to the grocery store, the exercise clinic and community centre. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to walk a kilometre, whereas before it would take that long just to walk to the bus stop 200 metres away.
When asked about her thoughts on exercise, Marianne said this: “Exercise is really good for everyone, no matter what your age is. You don’t realise how important your muscles are until you lose them, and they’re hard to get back once they’re gone.”