“Well….It all started when we met on the internet….”

Okay, so obviously that I don’t feel great about myself when I tell people that’s how I got connected to the Brazilian doctor who is bringing Maple Tree to her country.

Hello — Stranger Danger!!

Yes, I am well aware that I need to be careful about meeting people through the internet….especially when it comes to social media channels.

In this instance, however…(and thankfully), it worked out okay.

It all started back in April. A woman named Alice reached out to me through Instagram and asked if we could schedule a phone call. She told me (and Google confirmed) that she was a breast surgeon in Brazil, and wanted to help her patients to exercise during treatment.

During this initial phone call, I heard Alice’s story. She was a cancer survivor herself. When she was going through her treatment twelve years ago, she was told by her oncologist, “If you want to live, you need to exercise”.

Those powerful words changed Alice’s life. She embraced the idea of exercise so much so that she has completed 2 marathons since!

A few weeks later, Alice and I met in person at the ACSM National Conference in Orlando, Florida. The following week, Alice flew up to Dayton to see Maple Tree in action.

During this visit, I learned so much about Brazil. We talked about the health care system – which includes both public and private options for its citizens. Alice observed our training sessions, and we talked about how they might be adapted to best fit their culture.

By the end of this visit, there was no doubt that we both wanted to move forward with establishing Maple Tree as a non-profit organization in Brazil.

Step by step, we spent the rest of the summer putting this plan into action. Both Alice and I met with attorneys in our respective countries. We filled out paperwork, had that paperwork translated, went to meetings, had weekly phone calls, and then filled out even more paperwork.

On her end, Alice began making connections across Brazil. She pulled together a team of professionals to represent Maple Tree and help it grow.

The response they are getting from clinics across the country is nothing short of miraculous.  Nearly every person they have approached wants to have a partnership with Maple Tree. The opportunity to change lives in this country is limitless.

To start, we plan to open with 5 partnerships in Brazil this coming January. They will be located in the city of Soracoba, which is about an hour west of Sao Paulo. These partnerships will be in both the private and public health care settings, as well as a stand alone cancer clinic, a physical rehabilitation center, and a fitness center.

I have no doubt that these five sites are just the beginning.

There is something very special here. I can feel it. There is a sisterhood, of sorts between myself and Alice. Five thousand miles may separate us, but we are forever joined by our dedication to this cause.

I have always said that in order to do this work, you must be called to it. I’ve learned to spot an imposter from a mile away. That is why I can say with full confidence that Alice is the real deal. Her team is the real deal. I can think of no one else I would rather trust my dream with in Brazil than them.

They are going to do amazing things! I cannot wait!