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Mary Snyder

Mary Snyder Enjoys A Good Challenge

Low Moor, VA (June 4, 2024) - Mary Snyder enjoys a good challenge.

In April, she accepted the monthly Alleghany Highlands YMCA Healthy Highlands Program challenge and succeeded with flying colors. Contestants were tasked with walking 90 laps on the YMCA’s Nature Sensory and Wildlife Trail — the equivalent of approximately 30 miles — and Mary eclipsed that total with days and laps to spare.

Registered as “Old Lady,” Mary, 82, (she’ll be 83 on June 15) continues to prove that age is merely a number and she is certainly no “old lady.” Despite falling at home during the month and facing hand surgery in June, she finished the month with 115 laps and completed the monthly challenge on April 19, ahead of schedule by 11 days.

“I enjoy walking, and I love the outdoors,” said Mary, adding that she walks about three and a half miles per day. “It’s so pretty around the trail.”

The Alleghany Highlands YMCA Nature Sensory and Wildlife Trail is a newer addition to the YMCA campus. The quarter-mile trail cuts through the front of the YMCA property adjacent to the Jackson River. Taralee Wolfe, the YMCA’s Member Services director, helped to develop the idea for the trail and continues to add new flowers, trees and other items that heighten the senses and enhance the walking experience.

“It smells so good,” Mary added. “The trail really is an asset. A lot of people don’t know about it. It’s phenomenal.”

Mary has faced and defeated several health challenges in years past. A native of Waynesboro and a retired nurse, her initial workout routine at the YMCA including walking on the indoor track and working on the exercise machines. In 2008, she underwent her first of two shoulder replacements, and part of her therapy included rehabbing in the YMCA pool.

Eventually, Mary returned to walking and exercising on the machines at the YMCA, but in 2016, she had surgery to replace her other shoulder and an operation on one of her big toes. Then in 2020, she fell and broke one of her shoulders that had been replaced, spending the better part of three months in the Brian Center. She’s endured back surgery, and now she’s facing another hurdle in the form of hand surgery.

Despite all of these health issues, Mary continues to enjoy walking, and she understands the rewards a good walk can provide.

“Walking is just an overall good exercise,” she said. “It’s good for my blood pressure, and it just makes me feel better.”

“You get rid of your worries,” she added. “You do a lot of thinking and a lot of praying.”

Mary enjoys the support and encouragement from the entire YMCA staff, and her husband, John, continues to be her biggest cheerleader despite enduring some health issues of his own. John has been battling a nerve condition in his face that prohibited him from enjoying his favorite exercise – swimming in the YMCA pool.

“He worries about me, but I told him that if something happens to me out on that track, I’ll go to a better place in God’s great outdoors,” Mary said.

Undoubtedly, Mary will soon return from her upcoming surgery to accept another Healthy Highlands challenge in the near future.

“It’s fun, and it’s kind of rewarding for you,” she said. “Whatever you’re doing is good for your health.”

Dr. Sandra McHenry, Alleghany Highlands YMCA Healthy Highlands Program leader, said the goal of the monthly challenge is to keep contestants engaged and rewarded for healthy practices. No one exemplifies this more than Mary Snyder.

“Mary is a remarkable woman,” said Dr. McHenry. “Her dedication and positive outlook in spite of some health challenges are to be commended. We look forward to her accepting and completing many more Healthy Highlands challenges in the future.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Bobbie Wagner, the president and CEO of the Alleghany Highlands YMCA.

“Mary is such a beautiful lady and a great ambassador for our YMCA,” Wagner said. “We cheer for her (and John) and look forward to seeing them on a daily basis. Their story and their commitment to a healthy lifestyle using the Alleghany Highlands YMCA as a backdrop is what makes our YMCA such a special place.”

The Alleghany Highlands YMCA Healthy Highlands Program is an initiative aimed at promoting and improving the health of all Alleghany Highlands residents. For more information on the program, email Dr. McHenry at smchenryahymca@gmail.com or call (540) 962-9622.

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