How did this all come to be you ask?
Well it's quite a story. Is it about a man and a woman? Of course it is. But that's where we leave, what might be your expectation of a traditional love story, and embark on a story of 2 remarkable people, with traumatic lives, who's paths crossed and who's friendship caused a dream to be realized. So if you were expecting a romance novel, you'll have to check out the book store.
We start with a young man named Tony Scelta (yup- the March hunk in the calendar). At the age of 25 he was the epitome of fitness. Having graduate training in exercise physiology he was also a certified personal trainer with a thriving business and a great life. That's when he became one of the youngest people ever to be diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. PD nearly destroyed his life, but today, 11 years later, he is "Defying Despair" - the title of his inspirational book released last year. Encouraged by the overwhelming response he received from inspired readers, as well as book reviewers, he set out on his next project. This time, his goal was to give people with all types of physical challenges a source of inspiration 365 days per year, without having to open up a book. Thus, the concept of the DEFY calendar was born.
About the same time Tony was diagnosed, a woman by the name of Gina Reilly was contemplating a return to ice skating. This was not a new sport for her. At a veery early age she had been a promising ice dancer, but quit at the young age of 14, when the trials of growing up in a home with an alcoholic parent became overwhelming. At 15, more trials, - she was in an automobile accident which severely damaged her face, resulting in multiple fractures and trauma which throughout her life has resulted in over 50 oral and reconstructive surgeries. Just as these wounds were beginning to fade, a year later at the age of 16, she was attacked by a friend's German shepherd who latched onto her face trying his best to kill her. He did not succeed but left scars and more emotional trauma. It took over 100 stitches to repair the damage, but already Gina was learning to defy the odds.
All of of this now years behind her, she returned to the sport she adored and brought her five year old, Caitlin with her. While her daughter, didn't take to it as her mom had, Gina found a new venue for her talent and within 3 years of returning to the ice, became the 2-time U.S. adult gold national ice dance champion. During this time Gina also noticed a strange muscle stiffness which she chalked up to overtraining. But of course 4 years later, accompanied by a tremor on her right side, Gina was also diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson's Disease. Her reaction was that of shock but very shortly her traditional way of dealing with adversity came through. She would Defy this obstacle as well! She kept skating, rekindled her passion for singing and ballroom dancing and began to help other young Parkinsonians via The Young Onset Parkinson's Association, of which she is now President.
I know… when do we get to the part where they meet? It's coming right now.
Tony and Gina met at a conference in June of 2004 where they both gave talks on their experiences with Parkinson's. They saw each other at various conferences over the following year and began to develop mutual admiration for one another's strength and commitment to helping others. By the time the 2006 DEFY calendar was ready to print, Tony had realized that Gina and YOPA were doing great work in the PD community. So, Tony approached Gina with a plan to join forces to raise money for YOPA. Not one to pass up an opportunity to help the cause, Gina not only agreed, but she put her time, expertise, and her own money into the project. Her involvement led to the huge upcoming fundraising event in October, 2005 called "Knock Out Parkinson's" that will benefit several different charities. DEFY GEAR, offering inspirational apparel and other products is their latest co-venture and items can be purchased on this website.