The Recovery Project wellness program coordinator Steve Styes makes a difference in patients’ lives throughout Metro Detroit.
By Taylor Morris
Photography by Hayden Stinebaugh
When Steve Styes isn’t running a marathon or teaching yoga, he’s managing the Wellness Program for The Recovery Project in Livonia, Lansing and Clinton Township. After spending 25 years as a trainer in the health care technology field, Styes transitioned to The Recovery Project as the wellness program director in December 2016.
The Recovery Project is a physical therapy program based in Metro Detroit that specializes in working with patients with spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries and central nervous system disorders like Parkinson’s.
Shortly after Styes started at The Recovery Project, he became certified in Parkinson’s Wellness and Recovery — a program designed to help people with Parkinson’s disease slow down symptoms and disease progression — and Rock Steady Boxing, a treatment approach using boxing and fitness to manage Parkinson’s disease. The Recovery Project became the first outpatient therapy clinic in Michigan to offer Rock Steady Boxing.
“By working in this position, I’m trying to spread (Parkinson’s awareness) throughout the community,” says Styes, 57, of Livonia.
This September, Styes partnered with Meghan Malley, a physical therapist with The Recovery Project, to host a fundraiser called “Take Power Over Parkinson’s.” The goal was to raise money to provide Detroit-area residents who have Parkinson’s disease with funding to participate in health and wellness programs. They aimed to raise $10,000, but the fundraiser raised over $12,000 for patients, many of whom don’t have insurance.
As a result of the success, Styes says he would like to make the fundraiser an annual event.
The Recovery Project co-founder and co-owner Polly Swingle, lead physical therapist for the rehabilitation practice, says even though Styes has only been working in the field with patients who have neurological diseases and injuries for the past three years, he has taken the initiative to educate himself on how exercise and health can slow the progression of these diseases.
“Steve is an inspiration,” she says. “I have heard him say, ‘You must do the thing you think you cannot do.’ ”
Gloria Bielicki, one of Styes’ clients who was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s disease in September 2017, has been going to Rock Steady Boxing since January. She says Styes has helped her “in a multitude of ways.”
“He always has a positive upbeat attitude when we’re at class,” says Bielicki, 47, of Farmington Hills.
Bielicki says during classes, Styes walks around, offering help and pointers.
“I absolutely love the way Steve knows just how to gently push and motivate us,” Bielicki says. “As the workout goes on we start dragging and looking weary. Steve always has those funny one-liners that make us all laugh and find the fuel to keep going. … It’s very touching to know that we mean so much to him, that he gives up his free time at home to come up with fun things for us. I am so proud and honored to call Steve my friend and trainer.”