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How We Met: Running for Their Lives

Mike and Melissa conquer races and health issues



Photo, top by Douglas Foulke

Mike Rodgers had good reason for his seemingly unquenchable thirst. The office water fountain was located in close proximity to the workspace of a very attractive woman named Melissa, and he wanted to meet her. 

The water fountain wasn’t visible from Mike’s office so his team sent him frequent “Melissa alerts” whenever she was in the area. He would then sprint to the fountain for a hopeful meeting.

Mike, then a divorced father of three, was a confirmed bachelor working at James River Paper Company in Norwalk and wasn’t looking for a new relationship. But surprisingly, he looked forward to those “Melissa alerts.” A mutual friend orchestrated for the two to meet. But once they did, Mike thought, “What do I do next?”

Mike has always been an avid runner. Around town he is called Coach Mike and is an upbeat track organizer of the Ridgefield Bicycle Sport Club. He has competed in over 30 triathlons including the popular TriRidgefield. So, unsurprisingly, he decided to ask Melissa on a “running date.”

For her part, Melissa thought Mike was cute—so when he asked her for an after-work run, she agreed. “I wasn’t actually a runner, but I was fit and worked out,” says Melissa, a yoga instructor at Basil Yoga Center and The Gym in Ridgefield. Still, she trained for the entire week before their date. 

“That said, I’m sure nerves and adrenalin were behind my impressive pace,” she says.

Three years and many running dates later, Mike decided to surprise Melissa with a marriage proposal during a trip to Napa. He bought a ring and secured reservations at French Laundry, an exclusive restaurant.

On the trip, Melissa couldn’t help noticing that Mike nervously carried his briefcase everywhere. She recalls: “I thought, OK, lighten.” 

When Mike at last pulled a ring from his briefcase and proposed, his odd behavior finally made sense. They married at St. Stephen’s Church followed by a reception at Silver Spring Country Club. Ten months later, Melissa hung up her running shoes in favor of yoga when she became a mom. The couple has three children (along with Mike’s three) and two grandchildren. 

Not only are the Rodgers unique in their dedication to health and fitness, but also for how they handle challenges. Melissa infuses her classes with humor and offers philosophical tidbits as “nothing changes unless it changes.”

Mike is an inspiring coach who trained a friend throughout throat cancer treatments so he could compete in TriRidgefield. Two years ago, when Mike received his own devastating prostate-cancer diagnosis, he set an ambitious goal to compete in the popular triathlon just 16 weeks after his surgery. 

For motivation, Mike wore TriRidgefield shirts from earlier races to his chemo treatment as well as into surgery, always keeping in mind that a slower race time can still win the personal race.

With Melissa leading the cheering, a tearful Mike crossed the finish line bettering his pre-cancer time. This year this inspiring couple celebrates their 20th anniversary, Mike’s two years being cancer free, and his 11th TriRidgefield.

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January 2019

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Hartford Boat Show (HBS50) features the newest boats on the market including center consoles, fishing boats, luxury cruisers, deck and pontoon boats, sport and...

Cost: $12 in advance online, $14 at the door, $10 Senior/Military one day pass

Where:
Expo Center at Mohegan Sun
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd
Uncasville, CT  06382
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Sponsor: Connecticut Marine Trades Association
Telephone: 860-767-2645
Contact Name: Kathleen Burns
Website »

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Cost: Tickets: $25 | Members & Seniors $20 | Students $15

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The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Rd
Ridgefield, CT  06877


Telephone: 203-438-5795
Contact Name: The Ridgefield Playhouse
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Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
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Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free for members and with Museum admission

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258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

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Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
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Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

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Cost: Free

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Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
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Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
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Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

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Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

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Cost: $12; $10.80 member

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Thursday, Jan. 24 Author Talk: Stephanie Land - Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother's Will to Survive, 7 – 8:30 p.m. Maid is showing up on almost every best of, must read, don't miss list of...

Cost: free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 203-762-3950
Contact Name: Wilton Library
Website »

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Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
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Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

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Cost: $40

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The Ridgefield Playhouse
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Cost: Free

Where:
Woodcock Nature Center
56 Deer Run Road
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Sponsor: Woodcock Nature Center
Telephone: (203) 762-7280
Contact Name: Sam Nunes
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Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

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Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
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Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
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The Chapel at Maryknoll
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Telephone: 1-800-838-3006
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