One More Little Victory Checked Off My List!

Grand Haven Coast Guard Week is a tradition that started in 1937. For many of those years, the Tri-Cities YMCA has kicked off the celebration with a 5K, 10K and Fun Run. And since 2014, NOCHS’ Bariatric Clinic has fielded its own team of “spectators-turned-athletes” for whom this race has special meaning.

“For many of our patients, a community walk or run was something they never thought they could do, or could no longer do,” says Kelly Liggett, Exercise Physiologist at the NOCHS’ Bariatric Clinic. “Since NOCHS is a presenting sponsor for the Coast Guard City Race every year, we thought it would be fun to get some of our staff and patients involved in the 5K.”

So in 2014, Kelly and her coworker Mary reached out to their patients and formed a team. “We had 17 patients the first year,” Kelly recalls, “and it just kept growing from there.” Before COVID, the team included 65 patients and 11 staff members. Over the last two years, it has ranged from 60-65.

“Race day is one of the most rewarding days of the year,” Kelly shares. “For some of our patients, this is the first 5K event they’ve ever done. It’s a huge sense of accomplishment for the patients as well as for the staff. There are lots of tears and hugs as we celebrate all the hard work that brought each person to the finish line.”

Marjie Rios is one of the people who loves every minute of this event. “I’m pretty sure that I’m the first person to sign up every year!” she says. “I used to walk before my bariatric surgery in 2018, but it hurt my knees and hips after less than a mile. And honestly, the first time I participated in this event, it was a struggle to get up the opening hill! But I love the sense of accomplishment I feel. I keep trying to improve my time every year. This year my goal is 45 minutes or less.”

The Bariatric Clinic focuses on little victories with patients: things they can now do or enjoy that were unattainable before.  Everyone on the Bariatric Clinic race team wears a shirt with “One More Little Victory Checked Off My List” emblazoned on it.  For Marjie, the little victory is simply being able to walk without pain. “Walking is my happy place and I do it every day. Now I can do nine miles and I’m just tired like anyone else would be!”

Thank you to everyone who cheered on the Bariatric Clinic team and all the other race participants this past Saturday.  All of the participants loved hearing and seeing your encouragement.

If you’re interested in learning more about the NOCH Bariatric Clinic, visit us online or call 616.847.5489.

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