Charlotte Magazine: 'Move Because You Can'
Thank you to our friends at Charlotte Magazine, especially Jen Tota McGivney, for sharing the story below.
‘Move Because You Can’
After her amputation, Jenn Andrews sparks a movement for moving.
After Jenn Andrews and I spoke for the first time in 2018, I hung up the phone and went for a run. I am not a runner.
Jenn has this effect on people. Earlier that year, she’d had surgery to amputate her lower right leg. It was her best shot to cure myxoid sarcoma, a life-threatening cancer that came back after Jenn had it surgically removed three years earlier. It was a heartbreaking decision for someone who loved jogging, Orangetheory, and keeping up with her kids. Before surgery, she posted a tearful Facebook Live video with a request for her friends.
“Get out and move on Monday. For me. For all the people that want to so bad and can’t. So whether that means going to a class you love, whether that means going on a run in the rain if it’s crappy outside, whether that means going for a walk on your lunch break, even if it’s just 15 minutes. I’m asking you to get out and move because you can.”
By the time Jenn awoke from surgery, thousands of social media photos, messages, and videos of people being active bore the hashtag #moveforjenn.
Jenn’s sadness transformed into determination. At her first appointment after her surgery—before she even began to get around on a traditional prosthetic leg—Jenn asked her doctor about a running blade, a lightweight, springy prosthesis that would let her exercise again. Her doctor broke hard news: “That’s extra.” Health insurance doesn’t cover running blades, which cost between $5,000 and $50,000 and require repair or replacement every three to five years. Jenn could get a blade, but she kept thinking about those who couldn’t.
Jenn and her husband, Miles, started Move For Jenn, a foundation to raise money for sports prostheses for people with sarcoma who need them. When I talked with Jenn five years ago, it was a seed of an idea. They had no experience in nonprofits; they learned as they went. Today, Move For Jenn has given grants to more than 50 people, from young children to seniors. The grants are life-changers. They’ve allowed a high schooler to try out for the track team, a man to jog with his dog, a paralympic athlete to compete, a little kid to play with the neighbors, and someone to simply walk on the beach again.
This year, Jenn celebrates five years of being cancer free. “I’ve always had anxiety and fear of my cancer coming back, of dying and not being here for my kids,” she says. “But this feels like I can take a breath. It’s a new hope.”
On Dec. 9, Jenn will celebrate with more than 1,000 people at the Move For Jenn Pajamas All Day 5K and 10K. People young and old will jog, walk, roll, or skip their way to the finish line in their jammies. They’ll move because they can. Then Jenn just might do what she usually does at this event: present another grant to help someone move because they couldn’t.
To read the full story, visit Charlotte Magazine.
To register for the race and sign up to volunteer, visit the race website.