Tag Archives: health

Andrew Szymanski



With every great person, there’s a great story. Learn more about Andrew Szymanski and the Montgomery Dragonboat Races here! Andrew grew up in the small Northeastern town of Topsfield, Massachusetts. After high school, he moved south to Athens, GA to attend the University of Georgia, where he received a degree in Communications. Upon graduation, he decided to pursue his interest in nonprofits by serving in the AmeriCorps VISTA program, placing him in Montgomery, AL. Andrew served as program director for Bridge Builders Alabama, an organization that develops leadership skills and civic engagement practices in high school students. During his year of service, he quickly realized that the biggest impediment to nonprofits doing great work was access to funding and the development of strategic partnerships with local businesses and government entities.

Andrew’s introduction to dragon boating came early in 2010, through a conversation with non-profit acquaintances who had heard of an event in Chattanooga. It was new and exciting, and he determined it would be a unique fundraising tool for local Montgomery nonprofit agencies. The Montgomery Dragon Boat Festival was incorporated in 2010 and since then Andrew has served as its Executive Director. From its inaugural year, it has grown to be one of Montgomery’s largest events with an annual attendance of over 10,000 people and participation of 60-70 teams. Over the past 8 years he has overseen the distribution of over $250,000 in grant money to his organization’s beneficiaries.

In 2012 Andrew joined the Southeast Regional Dragon Boat Association as a state representative for Alabama. Two years later he was elected President and began to expand the reach of the sport in the Southern US. He also had the opportunity to serve on the United States Dragon Boat Federation Board of Directors for 3 years and in 2017 was elected President of the USDBF. The USDBF is the governing body for competitive dragon boating in the United States and in October of 2017 he took 240 Team USA athletes to the Dragon Boat World Championships in Kunming, China. The United States finished 3rd in the Nations Cup in 2017 and they are excited about bringing an even stronger team to the next World Championships in Pattaya, Thailand in 2019.

Andrew is the owner of two amazing dogs, Mr. Smudge and Miss Maple. He loves visiting his parent’s vacation home on Mount Desert Island off the Northern Coast of Maine and eating as much seafood he possibly can each fall. In 2017 Andrew bought his first home in the historic Cloverdale Idlewild neighborhood and looks forward too many more years in Alabama’s capital city.

To register for the Dragon Boat race, follow this link: https://montgomerydragonboat.org/


Mia Mothershed



Difference maker this week is Mia Mothershed of Jackson Hospital! Mia is the marketing and public relations director and is committed to a healthy river region. On Saturday, February 24th, Jackson Hospital is holding their annual heart health screening. It starts at 8am and ends at 11am. To register for this event (for all ages) www.jackson.org/events

Mia is active in the community and volunteers her time with several organizations including the Junior League, Leadership Montgomery and currently serves as ambassador chairman for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce.


Chandalyn Chrzanowski



Our Difference maker this week is Chandalyn Chrzanowski of Montgomery Area Nontraditional Equestrians or M.A.N.E.; MANE is a non-profit organization formed in 1994 that provides safe and effective therapeutic horseback riding opportunities to Montgomery and tri-county area children and adults with emotional, physical, cognitive, and developmental disabilities. MANE holds 501(C)3 corporation status, is a fully accredited Premier Riding Center
through the Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.), and all instructors are certified by PATH Intl. PATH Intl. is a regulatory agency that assures stringent standards for quality therapeutic horseback riding through instructor certification, site accreditation, and program monitoring.

Therapeutic horseback riding provides extremely important and effective intervention for people with cognitive, emotional, and/or physical disabilities. A rider straddling a horse stretches tight or spastic muscles throughout his or her body. Instructors and therapists use the three-dimensional rhythmic motion of the horse to reduce spasticity and abnormal movements, quicken reflexes, aid in motor planning, and strengthen muscles, joints, and tendons damaged by trauma or illness in their disabled patients. Riders with physical impairments or limited mobility can experience increased balance and muscle control; a wider range of motion; and improved respiration, circulation, appetite, and digestion. Confidence and enhanced self-esteem are positive by-products of therapeutic riding.

MANE’s new 44 acre site is located at 3699 Wallahatchie Road in East Montgomery, and includes an outdoor riding ring, office, 15 stall barn with indoor riding area, and a 3 acre state-of-the-art sensory integration trail. MANE serves around 100 individuals weekly. Call 334-213-0909 today to get your rider registered for one of our 3 ten-week sessions or our children’s summer camp which are held each year.

Chandalyn has grown up with horses interacting with them at her mother’s barn. She began riding hunter seat and developed equine skills from not only her mom, but also from various trainers and instructors. She has worked and volunteered at many riding programs, both therapeutic riding and show barns. Chandalyn competed on the IHSA team at both Wesleyan College and St. Andrews University, where she graduated with BA degree in Therapeutic Horsemanship and obtained Registered PATH instructor certification. While at St. Andrews, she spent her time riding on the equestrian team and working with the therapeutic program there. After graduating, she went to work at a show barn with noted equine trainer Shep Welles and assisted in managing the barn. This allowed Chandalyn to work with many different kinds of horses, taking a variety of lessons, as well as showing and teaching lessons. She joined MANE in April of 2014 instantly becoming part of the MANE team by charming staff, riders, and the Board with her personality and passion. Since working at MANE, Chandalyn’s passion for the industry has driven her to acquire her Advance Instructor Certification.

For more info please go to maneweb.org


Corey Ellis



Hear Corey talk about making difference in Montgomery by teaching better health. He came back to Montgomery after living in New Orleans for 17 years! Corey Ellis is a Hurricane Katrina survivor. He knows first hand and will discuss the opportunities available in Montgomery. Corey Ellis attended Grambling State University, in Grambling, LA, from 2001-2005, where he received his Bachelors Degree in Computer Information Systems.

Ellis, proving that you just may have a passion for a completely different occupation opposite of what your educational concentration, and Degree dictates, by electing not to pursue a career in computers, but venturing into the field of health and wellness. Corey is a certified personal trainer, group fitness trainer, YOGA instructor, and youth sports performance trainer.

Corey Ellis is the owner, and operator of the RezFIT Fitness & Wellness Studio in Montgomery, AL & RezFIT 2 Fitness Training Facility in Prattville, AL. Corey Ellis began his company, Resolution Fitness LLC, in 2008, and has been striving to build (RezFIT) Resolution Fitness LLC, to becoming one of the strongest forces of fitness in the River Region.