On Rebecca Leone’s website, RebeccaLeone.com, you will find the words, teacher, fixer, helper under her name. If I had a say in it, I’d expand that list to: friend, mentor, advocate, pioneer, healer, survivor, badass, seeker, rebel, angel—and still not find the right words to tell you what she means to me. The number of lives that Rebecca has touched—movement teachers seeking answers (which is how I found her), clients seeking strength and mobility, people living with chronic pain, a stranger on the street in need of a helping hand, a friend in need of a car or prime Rays tickets, or—it’s impossible to know for sure.
Now, the roles are reversed and Rebecca is the one who desperately needs help. In short time, she’s gone from being one of the healthiest, most independent. successful people I know, to one of the sickest and most vulnerable. What has transpired in the wake of her health crisis is the worst fear of anyone who’s ever been self employed—devastation of not just her health, but her finances and home. Yet what is glaringly clear: her story could, so easily, be any of us.
For the past four years, Rebecca has suffered debilitating illness caused by masses in her brain, disabling injuries, and serious post-surgical complications. For over a year, she’s been too sick to work; this long running health crisis-upon-crisis has completely exhausted her financial reserves, which, in turn, has created serious housing instability: forced from her beloved trailer in St. Petersburg, Florida, to a series of unsafe living situations, most recently, living out of a hotel in Oregon (special shout-out to Neil and JoJo of North Carolina, and John and Andry of Orlando, Florida, who have been instrumental in helping her through this crisis thus far). In the process of prolonged health concerns, dwindling finances and unsafe housing, many of her belongings have been ruined in transit, by the elements or stolen.
Why Rebecca’s tumultuous tumble is so remarkable, is to know the heights from which she has fallen, to know the power of an avalanche—how a seemingly insignificant, maybe unidentifiable thing has the power to set off a chain of events that snowball down the mountainside, gaining enough strength and momentum to level everything in its path. As a brick-and-mortar Pilates studio owner, world-traveling teacher-trainer and virtual education pioneer (I first found Rebecca’s wisdom on her phenomenal Pilates Nun website), Rebecca has been a hard-working, successful entrepreneur for decades. But being the boss of oneself is not for the faint of heart—few things can compare; the autonomy and independence are exhilarating. Yet, it’s also fraught with risks that few are able or willing to stomach. When successful, it rewards one’s soul in inexplicable ways, but it also comes with huge gambles, namely in the lack of safety nets that others rely on employers to provide: unpredictable income, health care accessibility challenges, even taking a vacation can be a tricky feat to maneuver. It’s why so few of us follow our true heart and instead, stay within the confines of a safe, predictable, stable world.
While she’s had a most amazing life as an entrepreneur, Rebecca’s current circumstances underscore why many shy from taking such a daring leap—the vulnerable place she now finds herself in. It’s difficult to pick apart the “cause” of an avalanche when things begin at the infinitesimal level and gain momentum in a flash. In Rebecca’s case, it was the combination of a debilitating hip injury, no access to heath care, topped with brain tumors, that snowballed without end, and completely devastate her life. The prophetic words of her longtime dear friend, Jimmy, upon hearing the depth and scope of Rebecca’s circumstances, exacerbated by the pandemic, sum it up succinctly: “My God, it could easily be me, Rebecca.” It could easily be any of us.
If there is one good thing emerging from the pandemic, it’s teaching many of us deep empathy and compassion—we are all this vulnerable. No one, not even the best prepared, is immune to unexpected catastrophe. What the pandemic is also making clear, is that we are all in this together. Support is showing up from the most unexpected sources, in the most unexpected ways. If we didn’t before, we know now, with undeniable certainty, how tenuous and uncertain all of our lives truly are, and how essential connections are, especially in this disturbingly disconnected time. Even though many of our reserves are stretched thin, we still have the power to make a huge difference in each others’ lives, with seemingly small acts that build on each other and lift each other up out of the rubble. A reverse avalanche, if you will.
We, Rebecca’s friends, would like to create such a reverse avalanche in her life, even more powerful than the one that leveled it, by raising as much money as we can for her, as quickly as we can, to ensure that she gets the healthcare she so desperately needs, and the housing that will help get her back on her feet and back to her true nature as teacher, fixer, helper.
This fundraiser will help to ensure that Rebecca has safe, stable housing, and continued access to the medical care she desperately needs, to recover enough to be able to return, through her work, to self-sufficiency. We would like to lift this heavy burden from her, so she can finally breathe again. There is nothing she wants more than to return to work, to return to life. There is nothing more that we, who love her, who have learned from her, want for her. For those of you who know and love Rebecca, who want to know more details about her circumstances, you can find them at her website, www.rebeccaleone.com/blog. We thank you from the depths of our hearts, for any help you can give.
- Kathy S
- Susannah Alpert
- Patricia Abood
Organizer and beneficiary
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