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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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September 2018

The Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce and the Connecticut Giant Pumpkin Growers Club will host the 6th Annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off on Sunday, September 23, 2018 from 10 am to 3 pm in Ballard Park,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ballard Park
Ridgefield, CT  06877


Sponsor: Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce
Telephone: 203-438-5992
Contact Name: Jen Mulhern
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Cost: $25; $20 members

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The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
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Cost: $65

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
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Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Telephone: 203-438-5795
Contact Name: Ridgefield Playhouse
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Reis Park
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Sponsor: Somers Women's Club
Contact Name: Jodi Hu
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Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

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Cost: Free

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Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
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Gunn Memorial Library
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Sponsor: Pepsi Rock Series powered by Xfinity
Telephone: 203-438-5795
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Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
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Telephone: 203-413-6735
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Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
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Martin House Workspace
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Sponsor: Martin House Workspace
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Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Telephone: 203-438-5795
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Cost: $12.50

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 E Ridge Rd
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Telephone: 203-438-5795
Contact Name: Ridgefield Playhouse
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Cost: Free

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Ridgefield Library
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Sponsor: Keeler Tavern Museum and History Center
Telephone: 203-438-2282
Contact Name: Lesley Lambton
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Cost: Free

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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
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Facilitated by Nina Bertolino This program will meet every other Wednesday from 10:30 - 12:30 on the following dates: September 12th & 26th, October 10th & 24th, November 7th & 21st, December 5th...

Cost: Free

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Ruth Keeler Memorial Library
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Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
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Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

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Greenwich, CT  06830
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Telephone: 203-413-6735
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The Ridgefield Playhouse
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Telephone: 203-438-5795
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Cost: Free

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Cost: donation

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Hunt Hill Farm
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Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
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On Thursday, September 27, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich will host its first-ever Oktoberfest celebration. Featuring German beer from Paulaner USA, Oktoberfest at the Bruce...

Cost: $30 for Bruce Museum members, $40 non-members

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

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1 Museum Drive
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Telephone: 203-413-6735
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Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 E Ridge Rd
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Telephone: 203-438-5795
Contact Name: Ridgefield Playhouse
Website »

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Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
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Telephone: 203-438-5795
Contact Name: Ridgefield Playhouse
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Cost: free

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10 Main Street
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Sponsor: The Smithy
Telephone: (860)868-9003
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On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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Canfin Gallery
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Sponsor: 1953
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Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
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