The Transformative Power of PT Day of Service


Day after day, conversation to conversation, experience upon experience, the overwhelming passion expressed by physical therapists (PT) is the chance to accompany people in their journey towards healthier movement, maximizing their lives. PTs express compassion and love for people through their serving heart with a simple act of kindness, a moment of gratitude, listening ears and minds, and a loving smile daily. These traits are a few of the many commonalities that have brought and shall continue to bring over 3,500 physical therapists, PT students, PT assistants, family, friends, and interdisciplinary colleagues together annually for Global PT Day of Service (PTDOS). They share in their common purpose of serving the world for a better tomorrow actualizing numerous unique opportunities for people around the corner and around the world.

The sustainable, rippling impact is not found in the numbers but in the transformation and transcendence ignited each year in October during the annual Global PT Day of Service. The engagement and effect on those sharing their talents and time and those engaging with the services and materials offered, known and unknown, ripples beyond the day as sustainable services, programs, habits, and ways of living manifest. Lives are transformed by a compassionate smile, touch, listening ear, and presence. The act may be simple, such as reading a book to a child or beautifying a local park. It may expand the state or country by bringing therapists, friends, and family together in one place to clean and repair bikes in the Mall of America or to build prosthetic hands in a collaborative program at the APTA National Student Conclave sponsored by ATI Physical Therapy, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), and Move Together. Whatever it is! With a heart and compassion for the good, anything is possible, and everything can change.

In 2015, Jen Gigliotti received a call from Efosa Guobadia never imagining what would transpire but open to listen to the idea and vision upon Efosa’s heart. In Efosa’s sharing the story of the What If thought from the Amazon River in Peru, her heart lit up. As a new PT professional with a heart for global service, she was fired up at the opportunity to catalyze and empower the PT profession to come together on one day to serve with their local communities around the world. The PT profession serves daily as they compassionately care for their patient’s needs and accompany them in their journey towards a better life through movement. Jen saw this as a fantastic opportunity to bring awareness to the PT profession and their serving heart by joining together on one day as a profession with friends and family across the globe.

Jen joined the initial PTDOS core team to conceptualize further and actualize the what if into reality on October 10, 2015. That spark and drive to catalyze PT across the globe led to an inaugural PT Day of Service with over 3,750 participants in all 50 US States and 28 countries around the world serving together on one day. This year on October 12, 2019, we celebrate our 5th Annual Global PT Day of Service, and Jen along with 24 other PTDOS core team members are here to help you catalyze your servant heart. For the last five years, she has looked forward to working with participants and ambassadors to provide them the support needed to create a responsible and sustainable project in her leadership of the PTDOS support team.

Inspired, Jen initiated a local endeavor in her Northern Minnesota town empowering PTs and fellow rehab partners by serving with the local Salvation Army. She started with her company, Big Stone Therapies, and since expanded it to the entire rehab nursing facility in which she works. The project began in 2015 as a once a year food drive and meal serving with the Salvation Army near the date of PT Day of Service. It has now expanded to a Seasons of Giving initiative with the aim to initiate a food drive and serve a meal together each season: fall with PTDOS along with winter, spring, and summer. The idea has transcended beyond the day and has become sustainable, unifying the entire rehab nursing facility. PTs, nurses, social workers, and administrators come together for a common good modeling a way of daily compassionate living. A way of life sustaining beyond the day, impacting daily actions, and expanding to a quarterly unifying engagement of the people in service for the local community.

Jen did not stop with a local project but reached out to her PT colleagues across the state in the Minnesota APTA chapter to collaborate on a unifying statewide service experience. They chose to collaborate with Free Bikes 4 Kids (FB4K), “a non-profit organization geared towards helping all kids ride into a happier, healthier childhood by providing bikes to those most in need.” FB4K empowers children to be physically active in healthy and safe ways, which aligns with the vision of physical therapists. It provides a unifying and inclusive experience bringing PTs, family, and friends together to use their varying skill sets for advancing healthy movement in children. Everyone digs in with their full heart getting dirty and greasy, stepping out of their comfort zone to learn new skills or utilize different skills from their daily activities.

The collaboration transcends beyond the day of cleaning, prepping, and repairing the bikes. People have brought in used bikes for repair and giving. Those living close to the children receiving the bikes have been honored to experience the smiles and joy on the faces of children and family members as they receive these gently used bikes. Children are empowered to be physically active, with an immeasurable impact on the child’s future, their family, friends, and generations to come. Those serving are also changed as the day serves as a model for daily living and servant leadership.

What’s next is unknown, but Jen knows there are always opportunities through humility to continuously grow and transform for a healthier community and healthier world. She has been honored to be part of something bigger than herself, the profession, and the local community. She is inspired by the profession and all those serving around the corner and around the world, and the ability PTDOS gives her to continue doing what she loves in service though her daily life continues to change with a growing family. Jen and her husband Nick, also a PT, look forward to sharing and empowering their children as they unite in sustainable service through movement and beyond.

Come play with us on October 12, 2019 for the 5th Annual PT Day of Service!

  • Sign-up to be an ambassador and lead a project,
  • Pledge to participate in an existing project or an individual service experience,
  • Become a sponsor supporting the mission & vision of Move Together, the parent organization of PTDOS, or
  • Donate to help us Move Together, increasing access to quality rehabilitation medicine around the corner and around the world.

Looking to lead a project but not sure where to start. No worries. Our PTDOS core team is here to support you with resources and 1-on-1 conversations to help you initiate and actualize a project.

Are you interested in collaborating with others or joining a project near you? Check out the PTDOS Project Map for current active projects and return often as new projects are added.

To learn more about PT Day of Service, check out the PTDOS website, read the full story by our co-founders, Efosa & Josh, and review our frequently asked questions.

FB4K has locations across the country if interested in learning more check out their website for locations, and Jen would be happy to share her experiences and help connect you.

Minnesota Friends & Family want to join Jen, Nick, and nearly 50 others from across the state clean, prep, and repair bikes in October? Pledge to participate and reach out to Jen for more information.

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