Noreen Stedman was one of the first people to bring countywide fitness to Calvert when she helped start Calvert Fitness in 1982. As the program expanded, she eventually became the sole owner, often teaching eight classes a week, mornings and nights, with as many as 40 participants in one class.
Today, the 62-year-old visits the Adult Day Care of Calvert County a few times a week and receives care for Alzheimer's disease, which has rendered her unable to speak. To honor Stedman's legacy of advocating fitness, the first Forget-me-not Fitness Hop will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 26 at the Northeast Community Center in Chesapeake Beach, with all proceeds going toward the care center.
"Mrs. Stedman used to teach aerobics classes years ago," said Ed Sullivan, ADC executive director. "Obviously, she's not capable of doing it anymore, but it sort of inspired this event. … Unfortunately, I did not have the privilege of knowing her before the disease took its toll."
But Nancy Haley of Sunderland did. For many years, Stedman threw a fitness hop to raise money for Calvert Memorial Hospital, she said. This time, her former students and co-workers are hosting the fundraiser to help the ADC.
Haley, who is organizing the fitness hop, said she is glad the agency is taking good care of Stedman and was moved to coordinate the fundraiser after she watched an ADC promotional video featuring Stedman and her husband, Scott, with whom she still lives in Dunkirk.
"I just cried and cried," Haley said, and reflected on the years she knew Stedman.
When Calvert Fitness was in need of more instructors in 1993, Haley said Stedman trained her with great patience.
"I had no fitness background," Haley said. "But she never once said, Oh my gosh, you've got a long way to go.' She was so positive."
Haley said she remembers being nervous at her first fitness hop fundraiser for the hospital.
"She actually praised me. Noreen just gave me so much confidence," she said.
During the seven years Haley worked under her, Stedman acted as her mentor, she said, and some other instructors at the upcoming fitness hop also knew her as such, Haley said.
"People that were in Noreen's classes were very loyal to Noreen," she said. "She was very giving. Even in her advanced stages [of Alzheimer's], if she hears someone moaning or sees someone hurting [at ADC], she goes and sits with them and holds their hand."
In addition to fitness training, Stedman also served as a Girl Scout troop leader and held her church's weekly Bible study group in her home for many years.
The half-day Forget-me-not Fitness Hop promises to be a great opportunity for both beginners and fitness gurus, Haley said. It will offer a variety of continuous programs throughout the morning, including stretches, high and low impact aerobics, Zumba, jazzercise, glove-up boxing, yoga and pilates, along with demonstrations of kettlebell and Muay Thai kickboxing. New and retro music will play while professionals teach the latest in group fitness.
Instructors who have committed to the event include: certified jazzercise instructor Christina Payne; pilates instructor Barbara Smith; certified Zumba instructor Linda Copeland; certified yoga instructor Niki Robshaw; former professional boxer and glove-up trainer T. Holland; certified fitness trainer and Muay Thai kickboxing instructor Aimee Reynolds; and certified personal trainer and water fitness instructor Val Martin.
Participants can come for an hour, or come for the whole four hours, and door prizes and freebies will be awarded throughout the day. One raffle will be for anyone who stayed for the entire day. If enough people register, Haley said there also will be local food vendors at the event.
"I would love for it to be huge," she said. "It's just a great way to get the community out there and test the waters of something they might not have tried before."
This event is sponsored by Calvert Financial Advisory Inc. Participants can register by March 10 for $15 (or $20 at the door) by sending a check to ADC, P.O. Box 1650, Prince Frederick, MD 20678, or by going online to www.adcofcalvertcounty.org and following the Forget-me-not Fitness Hop link.
Children younger than 10 will not be allowed to attend as no child care will be provided. All youth 10 to 16 participating must be accompanied by an adult 18 or older and must be registered for the event. It is the sole responsibility of the adult to accompany the child during the event. Youth taking a break from the group instruction for any time period must be with their adult sponsor.
Located on the lower level of the county's health department in Prince Frederick, the ADC is the only nonprofit agency in Calvert County offering day services to adults with Alzheimer's disease and dementia as well as other ailments.
If you go
The Forget-me-not Fitness Hop will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 26, at the Northeast Community Center in Chesapeake Beach. Preregister for $15 or pay $20 at the door.