Saturday Spotlight- Maria Rignola

Name: Maria T. Rignola (I’ve always used my middle initial)

Age: 51
Married to Joe Stanisci just two years ago on Christmas Eve
Children: a 21 year old daughter, Bianca; 2 stepsons, Joey and Mike, 2 daughter in laws, Kay and Allison and 4 grandchildren!

Even though I haven’t run the hills but maybe once in the past 10+ months, I want to thank you Lou LaFleur for keeping me involved by asking me to be wotw! This has motivated me to write this a week ahead of time (on the advice of Lou and a few previous wotw peeps) and actually get back to the hills January 1, 2017 with the help of my girl Chrissy Miccio Thorp. Thank you both.

Here is my story: I have 2 sisters and 3 brothers. We grew up a close, Italian/Irish, Catholic family. (like all girls Catholic school Catholic) Our parents instilled in us the importance of family, values and old school morals. Grateful for that. Sunday dinners still happen. (is it sauce or gravy…..) We never wanted for anything but were never spoiled. I am still Catholic and still attend Sunday mass. I really do enjoy going.
I was a dancer all my life. (funny story…”back in the day” in the going out clubbing days, when a guy would ask what I did for a living, I would say I’m a dancer. Their eyes would light up.”Really! What kind of dancer?” They’d ask with a wink,wink. I’d say noooo not that kind of a dancer. Happened all the time. Really) After high school, I am one of the few that did not go away to college. I kept dancing, choreographing, performing. I eventually went to Grumman Data Systems Institute and received a certificate in Computer Programming (that was a big deal back then). I did absolutely nothing with it. I am technologically challenged to this day.
I continued my passion. Dance. I was the choreographer and lead dancer for Peter Lemongello at the Showboat Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. I Choreographed the National Tour for Borden Foods (that would be the cows. Elsie the Mom is the face on the milk. Elmer the dad is actually on the glue. And they had two kids!) Numerous regional theatre prformances, couple of commercials, etc. etc.

At 25 I opened my shop, a small dancewear store in E. Patchogue. (going on 27 years) On stage is where I met my first husband. Dated for 5 years, got engaged, got married, had my daughter, got divorced when she was a year and a half. She came to work with me every single day, 7 days a week…and never danced a day in her life. We struggled a lot. Like social services struggle. (until my dad found out). I could have gone to Daddy for financial help, but I needed to take care of my daughter and I on my own. People think because you own your own business, you must be well off financially. Not true. I encouraged (begged) her to go to college so she didn’t struggle like her momma. Today she works in the medical field making more money than I ever did at that age and is fortunate to have a 401k at 21. So proud of her.

I transitioned from dance to triathlon about 10 years ago. A friend of mine, Bruce, asked me to join him doing the Bike-Boat-Bike tour. 50+ miles on a bike? He assured me I would be fine because of my “strong legs” from dance. (nice way of saying big legs). I loved it. Then someone was doing a 5k. Come and run it with me. Ok well, I just did a bike tour last week, I can run 3 miles no problem! The next thing I knew, I was hooked doing a race almost every weekend. Of course triathlon was the next course of action, right?? I got the run and bike down. How hard can the swim be? I’ll save that for another post. But I’ve been running now for about 10 years. A lot less in the past 4 because of injuries. I’ve motivated people to get out and get active; and there are people who have and are still motivating me to keep swimming/biking/running.

It’s true what people say…..the friendships, the comaraderie. Top notch. I have met some of my dearest friends running and racing triathlons. Friends that will be by your side in times of need when you didn’t know you were in need. I was introduced to the Selden Hills by “Doc” Richard Nebiosini DCand Pat Knecht about 2 1/2 years ago, thanks guys xo

So that is the beginning of my week. Hope it wasn’t too long for you

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