All posts by Michelle Bower

Meet our new Exercise Oncology Specialist!

Meet our newest Maple Tree Exercise Oncology Specialist Brent Morgan! Brent grew up on a family farm in Avella, PA. He received a Bachelors Degree from the University of Akron in exercise physiology. Upon graduation he began working on his Masters degree in Exercise Oncology at Saint Francis University. He is finishing his second year, planning to graduate in May 2019.
Brent is currently enrolling new cancer patients in the Maple Tree Alliance Program at the Buhl Community Recreation Center. This program provides personal training to cancer patients at every stage of diagnosis. This is a free service to all cancer patients. For more information on Maple Tree or set up a private appointment with Brent, please call Michelle Bower at 724-981-3700 ext. 108.


The Nittany Lion Friendship

SHARON – The quest to bring athletics back to Penn State Shenango’s campus started as just a dream for Campus Director Dr. Jo Anne Carrick.

“I’m a dreamer,” she said. “I like to imagine things that could happen and then make them happen.”

Now, as the finishing touches are put on the renewed home of Penn State Shenango’s athletic teams at the Buhl Community Recreation Center, Carrick’s vision merely awaits the student-athletes’ arrival on campus to become a reality.

The journey began roughly four years ago.

Carrick said there were some bumps along the way, but in February 2017, the branch campus was officially reinstated to the United States Collegiate Athletic Association to compete as a member of the Penn State University Athletic Conference.

Sharon will get its first taste of local collegiate athletics in more than 20 years when members of Penn State Shenango’s new men’s basketball program take the court on Nov. 10. A women’s volleyball program is scheduled to begin play in 2019, and Carrick said the campus hopes to add more sports as the athletic program continues to grow.

The campus hired Andre Smith as athletic director and head men’s basketball coach in April 2017. A former basketball standout and assistant coach at Youngstown State University, Smith is experienced with young programs, having built Lourdes University’s basketball program from the ground up before accepting the position in Sharon.

Smith said he’s already added eight players to the basketball roster, and hopes to add several more before team conditioning begins in August.

But to bring the program back to its previous form, Carrick said she first had to look to the past.

“To bring it back, we first have to look at why it stopped,” she said. “We found that it wasn’t relevant to why we don’t start again.”

Penn State Shenango’s athletic program thrived before disappearing completely in the mid- to late-90s. Carrick said its teams’ home games served as a destination for people all over the Shenango Valley and provided a welcomed boon to the local economy.

So Carrick developed a task force spearheaded by Bill Dungee, who was hired as Penn State Shenango’s director of finance and business after working with the Farrell Area School District for more than seven years.

Dungee’s task force consisted of college faculty, students and community members to determine the feasibility of bringing back the athletic program. Dungee said he also surveyed high school students and school districts to gauge interests and determine which sports to add to the program first.

“It was good for us to be able to start from ground zero,” Dungee said. “It was evident right away how much interest there was.”

Athletics play a significant role in student enrollment, Carrick said, and with the Shenango campus being the last Penn State campus to start an athletic program, Dungee said it was clear that’s exactly what the campus needed.

“We looked at the Beaver campus and found that every one out of seven students there is an athlete,” he said. “And we were missing that component.”

Identifying usable facilities was the task force’s main focus, and since the university collaborated with the Buhl Center in the past, Carrick said the rekindled partnership was the perfect match.

“It’s a community and a family place,” Carrick said of the Buhl Club. “It’s more than just a fitness center, and we are more than just a college down the road.”

Penn State Shenango signed a three-year contract with the Buhl Center in April. Between the necessary upgrades to the Buhl Center, administrative costs, and the financial partnership between the two entities, the startup cost to reinstate the athletic program was about $102,000.

Upgrades to the Buhl Club’s 115-year-old building at East State Street and Pine Avenue included new paint, lighting, wall padding, scoreboards and backboards. The nearly 50-year-old gym floor was also replaced, striped and polished off with an official Penn State logo.

The gym will still be open to Buhl Club members when not in use by the campus’ teams.

Penn State Shenango teams will also have their own home locker room, which includes new lockers, updated sinks and showers, a whirlpool and new signage. The locker room also has a whiteboard and television for diagraming plays and watching game films.

“With it not being our own facility, there were only so many things we could do,” Smith said. “We’ve done everything we can to make it our own.”

Carrick also mentioned adding student housing in the future for both athletes and the regular student body.

“We’ve had some discussions with private investors,” she said. “(Housing) would attract students in general. It would make them really feel like a part of the community and get the full college experience.”

But for now, the Penn State Shenango dreamer is just looking forward to watching the local Nittany Lions take the court for the first time this fall.

“These may not be kids who are going to play in the NBA, but they love working out and being college students,” she said. “Now they get to put on that Penn State uniform, and they are connected to that. It’s pretty cool.”


The above article is from the Sharon Herald


Photo By CORY BYKNISH | Herald

Picture of Coach Andre Smith stands on the newly renovated basketball court at the Buhl Club in Sharon.

The Maple Tree Cancer Alliance

SHARON – A nonprofit business that provides exercise programs for cancer patients is coming to the Buhl Community Recreation Center.

Dr. Karen Wonders, founder of The Maple Tree Cancer Alliance, which is based in Dayton, Ohio, said Sharon will be the first of more planned sites in Pennsylvania. Wonders, however, is not a newcomer to western Pennsylvania.

She grew up in Cranberry Township, Butler County, and graduated from Slippery Rock University with a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology. After graduation, she pursued a doctorate from the University of Northern Colorado. She and her family eventually moved to Dayton.

Maple Tree had a humble beginning.

“I started it at my kitchen table,’’ Wonders said.

Creating an organization promoting exercise is one matter, targeting it for cancer patients is another. She developed that idea while studying for her doctorate in Colorado.

With the help of hefty grants, Wonders undertook a detailed study of how cancer patients physically reacted to exercise.

In the study, she tracked cancer patients who underwent chemotherapy treatment and followed a prescribed exercising program during their recovery. The study indicated that exercise helped patients improve 6 percent in muscular endurance, 38 percent in muscular strength, 27 percent in cardiovascular endurance and 7 percent in cardiovascular system performance.

Wonders said the results showed exercise improves the health of chemotherapy patients.

“I think everyone understands that chemotherapy is so hard on someone,’’ she said. “It shows that people can get stronger during chemotherapy rather than being so sick and weak and maybe being confined in bed. They’re not just surviving chemotherapy. They’re thriving.’’

With that information in hand she began mulling over how to bring the program to the healthcare community. Wonders launched the Maple Tree concept in the Dayton area and the system grew from there.

Maple Tree now operates at seven Dayton-area locations, with 18 employees. One of the workers oversees fundraising, and the rest are trainers.

Nearly two-thirds of those in the program are breast cancer patients.

While Maple Tree’s goal is getting patients healthier, hospitals, insurance companies along with federal Medicare and Medicaid programs have another motivation.

“It saves them money,’’ Wonders said.

If cancer patients undergoing the exercise program are healthier, it costs insurance companies and hospitals less money, she explained.

Collecting data on patients’ exercising results draws that group to the table, Wonders said.

If a patient undergoes hospital treatment and is readmitted within 30 days after being released, Medicare and Medicaid generally don’t pay that cost. That means hospitals take a financial beating.

 “The Dayton hospitals calculated they saved almost $7 million in 2016 on just readmittance,’’ Wonders said.

For now, Maple Tree is relying on contributions and some help from hospitals with no out-of-pocket costs to patients.

“Our goal is getting the attention of insurance companies,’’ she said. “(Hospitals) can’t bill for these services now. It seems so illogical that it hasn’t happened yet. “We’re literally talking to insurance companies almost daily.’’

There is another reason why Wonders decided to bring her services to Sharon and the Buhl Community Recreation Center. Jason Kmick, executive director of the nonprofit center, is an old college friend from their days at Slippery Rock University.

“We both majored in exercise physiology, and I got to become really good friends with her husband, and so we kept in communication over the years,’’ Kmick said.

There is no financial arrangement with the Buhl Club, such as charging Maple Tree fees, he said. Also, club members seeking to get into the program also won’t be charged a fee.

“We’re just trying to get the program off the ground,’’ Kmick said.

While they are both in the same field, he said the science of applying exercising for cancer patients isn’t a familiar subject for him.

“I’m lucky I’ve had very limited experience with cancer in my life,’’ Kmick said. “But Karen has the data and experience to show how significant exercising can be for people recovering from cancer. We’re excited about having her and Maple Tree here to train us.’’

TO MAKE AN appointment with Maple Tree at the Buhl Club, call Samantha Henry at 724-996-2789.

Above Article is from the Sharon Herald


Dance Through the Decades

The Buhl Community Recreation Center has announced the return of the Buhl Club Oldies Dance
Fundraiser. The dance will be held Saturday, March 24th from 7:00pm-10:00pm in the Buhl Club
The dance originated in 1982 and was help at the Knights of Columbus in Sharon. By 1986 it outgrew the original site and moved to Tiffany Manor. The dance continued to grow and by 1993, it moved to Yankee Lake, with a crowd of 800 people
After a couple of years of not having the annual Oldies Dance, the Buhl Club is ready to bring it back with a twist! The dance will not only have 50s and 60s – there will be music all they way to the 90s. 
DJ Dallas Richardson from SDproductions will be playing music from the 50s-90s.
Appetizers, dessert, and refreshments will be provided by LuLu Beans Cafe. Drink vendors include Webb Winery and Crooked Tongue Brewing. J & J Photography will be taking photos throughout the night. Cash prizes will be rewarded for best dressed from each decade. The event will also include raffle baskets, 50/50 raffle, and GIVEAWAYS!
The BIG GIVEAWAY is a one week stay at a luxury beachfront 2 bedroom/2 bath condo centrally located on Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman Islands. This beach as just voted by Trip Advisor as one of the 5 best beaches in the world. Lodging only – airfare not included – nontransferable and subject to availability. Purchasing a Oldies Dance Ticket includes one entry for the big giveaway. Winner will be chosen during the event at 9:30PM. Must be present to win. This condo was generously donated by a local Shenango Valley family that has always supported the Buhl Club (thank you). 
Tickets are $30 and on sale in the Buhl Community Recreation Center business office or online at Price of the ticket includes appetizers, desserts, non alcoholic refreshments. The event is 21 and older. Proceeds of the event will support the Buhl Community Recreation Center’s Financial Assistance Program, which provides memberships and programs to youth and families in need.
For more information please contact Michelle Bower, Program Director, 724-981- 3700 ext.108 or email