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Retired local WWII veterans staying fit

A veteran is all too familiar with day-long workouts, boot camps and physical endurance challenges. But in retirement, how do veterans make sure their health is in tip-top shape?

For many veterans, exercising on a daily and weekly basis at the Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center is just part of their routine. They credit it with keeping them young.

In April 2012, Tom McKale, a Navy veteran and resident of Downers Grove, was healthy and well enough to participate in the honor flight to Washington, DC.

“I have had three pacemakers; the latest one is only a month old,” McKale said. “I owe a lot of my life to pacemakers, so it’s important to keep myself as healthy as I can be.”

This October, at 95 years young, McKale celebrated his birthday with friends from the sit and fit class at the Wellness Center. The sit and fit weekly class targets those who might need assistance with balance. Participants get fit from their seat, helping increase strength, endurance and flexibility.

McKale participates in several classes and fitness programs at the Wellness Center and he looks forward to what will come at his next milestone, age 100.

Other veterans, like Frank Chudoba, an 86-year-old Westmont resident, underwent open heart surgery 20 years ago.

“I have been exercising ever since my surgery. I try to stay active every day to keep myself in good shape,” Chudoba said.

Victoria Gary, a 92 year-old Army veteran and resident of Downers Grove, enjoys visiting the Wellness Center for the fitness classes as well as the social aspects.

“A proud moment was when I went on the honor flight eight years ago. I didn’t need any assistance and was able to walk myself onto the plane,” Gary said.

Christine Cornell, fitness instructor at the Wellness Center, enjoys getting to know these local vets in her classes.

“I enjoy seeing the veterans come to my classes,” Cornell said. “They have the most interesting stories, but I also love seeing them commit to fitness and their health.”

Fellow veterans and Wellness Center members that attended the birthday party for McKale included Gary and Chudoba, and also Nate Principato, George Tsatsos, Dean Katsaros, Joe Volpe and Jim Holec.

For more information on the group fitness classes at the Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center visit or call 630.275.2640. The Wellness Center is located on the campus of Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital at 3551 Highland Avenue, Downers Grove.

Photo: Retired veterans Nate Principato, Tom McKale, Virginia Gary,  George Tsatsos, Frank Chudoba, Dean Katsaros, Joe Volpe and Jim Holec celebrated McKale’s 95th birthday at the Wellness Center in October.



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