This is one Smarty Mom we can ALL learn a lot from. Janelle Tuck Lenhart is a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend and so much more. Janelle is an AMAZING inspiration to many. She has been through so much and yet nothing keeps her down. She is a working mom, an avid fitness buff, a Let Me Run coach, and an active church & school volunteer. She does all of these things so devotedly and kindly and enjoying every step along the way. I guess having a near death experience does give you some perspective on life. Her steps have changed a little since her accident, but Janelle is as fit as ever and you might not even notice anything is different about her. That something different is not just physical, it is her unbelievably kind, warm, and tenacious spirit as well. Smarties, I am honored to introduce you to Janelle today.
Smarty Mom: Janelle Tuck Lenhart
Smarty Mom Stats:
Married to: Mike Lenhart – on August 16th it will be one year.
Children: Lauren (step-daughter, 21), Jim (11), and Hill (9 ½)
Years lived in Charlotte: Grew up here, lived in Georgia after college and moved back to Charlotte in 2010.
Neighborhood: Myers Park
Alma Mater: University of Georgia
Tells us about your family and growing up in Charlotte. I have one sister, Melissa Murphy, who lives across the street from my parents, who still live in the house we grew up on Maryland Avenue. I have lots of happy childhood memories from growing up in Charlotte/Myers Park.
You work with your family also. How fun is that? We sell residential real estate – The Tuck Team with Cottingham Chalk Hayes. It is wonderful to work with your family and support each other on a team. For me, personally, I am the most junior person on the team, but I’ve been able to “learn” very quickly with the help of the other three members of The Tuck Team: my dad, mom, and Melissa!
How do you balance working and being a mom/wife? Like everything else, it all comes back to that word: balance. And I try to devote quality time to each area; work, family, church, etc. It’s not always easy but it’s a nice goal to have!
You are involved in so many things. What drives you to give so much of your time and talents to other? I don’t take anything for granted. I appreciate each and every day. We are so very fortunate in this country; in this city. And I feel like it’s our responsibility to give back to others. Imagine if everyone gave just a little bit of their time each week? What an impact that could make in our communities!
On a more serious note, you had an unbelievable near death experience in 2010, share with our readers what happened to you? I survived a flesh-eating bacteria that I most likely developed from a simple accident around the home. The medical term is called “necrotizing fasciitis” and it cannot only be extremely debilitating but fatal if not treated quickly. Doctors performed life-saving surgeries to keep me alive but also had to amputate my left leg below my knee to contain the spread of the deadly bacteria to the rest of my body. Even after the amputation surgery, I wasn’t out of the woods yet. Many of my organs started to shut down and fail. I ended up spending 40 days in the hospital fighting for my life.
Did it take you a long time to heal physically and emotionally? Physically, it took me a few months to learn to walk again with the help of rehabilitation therapists. Emotionally, I didn’t have time to have a pity-party for myself. I was a single-mom with two young boys. They needed me and I needed them. My entire Charlotte family and friends wrapped their arms around us and helped us through some difficult days. I also leaned on my Christian faith, although there were times when I silently questioned “Why me??”
What kept you going through it all? There are lots of ways I could answer that question. Looking back now, I think I relished the small victories like getting out of a wheelchair and into a prosthetic leg, learning to run again, and even being the “cool mom” at my boys’ elementary school with my bionic leg. Days turned into weeks; weeks turned into months, and before long I realized how far I’ve come in just a few years.
How has your life changed since then? Most would seem a lot has changed, but at the same time nothing seems to slow you down. You are as busy as ever, with coaching for Let me Run for boys or volunteering at church and school. What drives you? You’ll often hear me say: Limb loss does not equal life loss. We are very fortunate to live in a period of time where medical advances allow amputees to live a healthy, active lifestyle if one chooses to do just that. So I’m motivated to be a positive role model for my boys, even if they don’t always want to admit that. They might tell you that I’m just like every other mom who tells them to clean up their rooms or stop fighting or do their homework. So I guess that means my life has been an adjustment to my “new” normal. And that’s exactly how I’ve wanted it to be.
You are a very physically fit mom and knowing what you have gone through should motivate us all to be more active. You are such an inspiration. What advice can you give our readers about staying fit and keeping our families fit? For someone who’s gone through a life-changing traumatic event like me, secondary conditions such as diabetes, depression and obesity can quickly set in if the individual succumbs to a sedentary lifestyle. But it’s not just the disabled community who can fall into this negative lifestyle. We all can! So my advice to anyone would be to remain active and keep moving. Something as simple as 30 minutes of physical activity a day by walking around the block can do wonders to keeping in shape.
Share with us about The Getting2Tri Foundation, Active Charlotte Alliance and any other organizations you are involved in these days? How can our readers join in if they are interested? Getting2Tri is a non-profit founded by my (now) husband, Mike Lenhart, back in 2008. Mike wanted to create an organization that put on sports camps to teach individuals with physical disabilities how to “swim, bike, and run”, which are the disciplines of the sport of triathlon. Ironically enough, I heard about Mike’s organization shortly after I started my rehabilitation. My prosthetist had just made me a running leg and he encouraged me to attend a Getting2Tri camp in Atlanta where I learned not only how to run, but swim, and bike with my prosthetic leg. Months after that camp, Mike and I continued to stay in touch, eventually started dating long distance and the fairy tale ending is that we got married last August. Last November, Mike moved from Atlanta to Charlotte and became a founding partner for a new, fledgling nonprofit called The Active Charlotte Alliance (ACA). ACA’s ultimate goal is to raise the health & wellness profile for the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. ACA is still fairly young and Mike’s goal is to merge the programming side of Getting2Tri into one of the focused areas for ACA. So I would point your readers to the ACA website to look for ways to find out more: www.activecharlotte.org
Are you actively training for events? Not right now; just trying to juggle a full, active life and getting ready to move from our rental home to a home we purchased. In early August, the Tuck Team will live diagonally or behind one another on what we affectionately call the Tuck Compound; my parents and Melissa’s family are currently across from one another on Maryland Ave, and my family is moving into the house behind my parents on Sterling Road. Who would have imagined we’d all be living so close together!
Just for fun:
Best thing about being a Charlotte native? I love meeting new people especially those who are not from here and sharing with them how much Charlotte has grown and changed.
What is your favorite activity to do with your kids? We love to ride bikes on the greenway.
What about a best activity for a date night? Dinner and a movie
What are your three favorite restaurants in Charlotte? 131 Main, Ru Ru’s and Beef and Bottle
Favorite meal to cook at home? Anything on the grill so I don’t have to cook in the kitchen
What/Who makes you laugh the most? Dance parties with our family and nieces (Macon and Molly)
When you get a few minutes to yourself, what do you like to do? Hobbies? Take our dog, Shea, on a walk.
Favorite Way to work out? Hilliard Studio Method
Favorite Movie? Anything in the theatre so I can get popcorn and Bunch a Crunch
Favorite Vacation Spot? Grandfather Mountain, where I grew up going and where Mike and I got married last summer
What was the last book you enjoyed? I just finished Disciple I this spring at MPPC and we read 80% of the Bible. It was a wonderful year learning more about the Bible!
Finish this sentence: I want my kids to always remember… To have compassion for others.