Shalieve Stories

The Spirit of Shalieve

The origin and meaning of Shalieve

Ryan Shazier is no stranger to injuries. Yet he comes back from them more fit, more determined, and an even better player. He’s also a guy who knows the importance of maintaining lifelong friendships. His best friend from high school, Jerome Howard, is also his trainer.

On a trip to the airport before the 2016 season, Shazier, Howard, and Shazier’s wife Michelle were talking about Ryan’s upcoming goals for the football season with the Pittsburgh Steelers

“It was the year before my first Pro Bowl,” says Shazier, “and I told Jerome, ‘Yeah, I wanna make Pro Bowl—I want people to believe—like SHA-lieve in me!”

Michelle takes over, “We all started laughing, and I remember saying, ‘That sounds so cool and so different and so YOU!”

Shalieve became a locker room mantra, a “Steelers shout.”

Shazier crushed his goals, and was selected to the 2016 Pro Bowl.

During the 2017 season, Shazier suffered a spinal cord injury, and #Shalieve became a trending hashtag on Twitter, a sign of support on hats and other merchandise in the Pittsburgh area, and a way to show love and support to Shazier, who was again “Shalieving” in himself through his SCI recovery.

A fun, fabricated word between lifelong friends became the declaration for hope.

So what does Shalieve mean?

It means believing in yourself, even when others harbor doubt.

It means setting, and then crushing your goals.

It means keeping your inner circle close, because they believe—Shalieve—in you.

And it means spreading the spirit of Shalieve to the people you meet.
The Spirit of Shalieve is infectious.

A Young Man Pivots After a Disastrous Work Injury- Zach Schmude

23-year-old Zach Schmude never lost a beat after being crushed by a piece of work equipment. His positive attitude carries him to every accomplishment. Pittsburgh-area Zach Schmude was just 23 years old when he decided he would make a career change. “I was working for a beer distributor as a CDL delivery driver,” says Zach, “but I was also in the warehouse working night shift, building the beer pallets.” His uncle,…

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A Consultant Becomes a Caregiver- Joe and Emily Senita

When your 14-year-old daughter suffers a severe spinal cord injury, parents pivot to give her the best life possible. It was a week after Claire Senita’s 14th birthday, and to hear her father tell the story, he and his wife, Emily, were chasing around three kids at different life stages. Their son, Mark, 17, was heading toward graduation. George was heading for the…

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On Belay- Vanessa Cameron

How one rock climber found footing in online recovery. “Better we raise our skill than lower the climb,” –Royal Robbins, a pioneer of modern rock climbing. And so it was that Vanessa Cameron, 35, was leading a rock-climbing party of friends in Oregon. She had made the climb before, so she was familiar with the…

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Creating Normalcy from Chaos- Melinda Janosko

Melinda Janosko figured out how to create a semblance of sanity from the chaos of her son’s SCI. Melinda Janosko is, by her own admission, someone who craves normalcy. So, it was with careful planning that, in late 2019, Janosko took leave of her job. She wasn’t retiring but rather taking stock of her career and deciding her…

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A Young Mom Becomes an Instant Caregiver- Amy Brown

Amy Brown’s four-year-old suffered a devastating spinal cord injury. Yet she never wavered. In 2009, four-year-old Alex Brown suffered a spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma. Two days later, Alex had a spinal cord stroke. And young mom Amy Brown became more than a mom: She donned the dual mantels of “caregiver” and “advocate.” Life is Good!…

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Moving On Up- Jessica Harris

Five years after a life-changing bicycle accident, an SCI warrior gains the ultimate independence. Jessica Harris needed to get out of the house. And she did–five years after a freak bicycle accident while on vacation stole her ability to walk. Harris, through her own hard work and the tireless care and assistance of her parents,…

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An Avid Outdoorsman Works to Walk- Gabe Piselli

Three years after a tree falling accident, one man doesn’t know the meaning of the word “quit.” Gabe Piselli is your quintessential outdoorsman. The 43-year-old father of two young, athletic boys grew up learning “the trades” in his family’s construction business in Delaware County, PA, a stone’s throw from Philadelphia. Piselli matriculated at Temple University,…

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Losing Yourself to Find Yourself- Tommy Swarts

When someone suffers a spinal cord injury, the devastating physical effects are evident. The mental and emotional ones are not. Tommy Swarts discusses both. In 2008, Tommy Swarts was a 20-year-old software developer, working with clients such as Palm Pilot, ScanDisk, Trans Union, and the Golden State Warriors. He also participated in the company’s inline…

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