In September of 1993, the Greater Buffalo Gymnastics Center opened its doors to the Amherst community and surrounding areas after years of overcoming obstacles. A now triumphant Hirsch Family battled through the town of Amherst rezoning process, cleared 2.1 acres of property by hand and faced uncooperative weather to appreciate the reality of their dreams on September 20, 1993 when the first classes were held at their pristine new facility.
Torey Hirsch met Sharon DePeters when he asked her to perform in an 8th grade gymnastics talent show at Heim Middle School. The two have been involved in gymnastics ever since. Having a combined total of over 70 years experience, both Torey and Sharon take pride in teaching children of all ages. This is evident by their involvement in programs such as Williamsville Community Education all way up to coaching High School competitive teams.
Throughout high school, Torey and Sharon competed for Williamsville North and then continued on to college where they never lost touch or their love for the sport of gymnastics. Sharon decided on Canisus College where she graduated with a prestigious degree in nursing. Torey attended Kent State and transferred to Ohio State where he graduated with a degree in Psychology. After graduation, they returned to their hometown and married in 1980. They continued to coach in the area and started a family by having a son TJ and a daughter Jacquie.
Both Torey and Sharon worked nights at the Buffalo General Hospital in their respective fields, instructed gymnastics during the day, continued to raise a family, and at times, held a third job. The concept of providing gymnastics instruction under their own terms was a dream Torey and Sharon had always talked about. After years of searching, they found the perfect spot in Amherst, New York, the safest town in America, but the struggle had just begun to turn their dream into a reality.
In 1988 after negotiating the purchase of land, the town planning department denied their proposal for the 13,600 square foot facility because they felt the land parcel was not big enough and it may also be archeologically sensitive. This battle was eventually won and the two began a year long process of writing a business plan and retaining financing. After Torey and Sharon secured a loan, things began to look up and construction began shortly thereafter. Torey took on the general contracting himself with the help of his brother Tracy, owner of Trason Development Corporation, and the rest of the Hirsch Family who assisted in the building process to truly make Greater Buffalo a family built, owned, and operated business.
Today, The Greater Buffalo Gymnastics & Fitness Center is now part of the only complex of its kind in all of New York State. The once thought "too small parcel of land" has now grown into a $2.5+ Million, 5 acre complex with more than 40,500 square feet and is completely dedicated to children, education, and health which provides gymnastics, an adult fitness center, dance, and a full service childcare and pre-school center.
TJ graduated from Geneseo where he holds 2 school records in diving, was a 3-time state champion and an NCAA National All-American. He is using his earned degree in Business Management to help run the business, served as project manager for the facility's $1.7 million dollar expansion and has since started his own company right at the same complex. Jacquie, who also attended Geneseo State University, kept up the family's traditions in college sports and education. Her first year was spent learning the ropes of the diving team from her senior year brother where she placed in the top 5 at the conference championships. She worked at the gym when she was home from school and was only 4 weeks away from finishing her student teaching to recieve a degree in Early Childhood Education. Sadly, Jacquie was taken from us on September 6, 2008 at the age of 23, following a year long battle with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.
Jacquie had big plans for her future that involved the education of children, both in the classroom and in the gym. Since her diagnosis, she had fought hard to be able to turn her dreams into a much deserved reality. She endured countless hospital stays at Roswell Park & Memorial Sloan Kettering, several treatments of chemotherapy and radiation, and 2 bone marrow transplants. Although Jacquie will never have her own classroom, the life lessons she taught will live on in each one of us as we continue to teach children and enrich lives, both at the gym and through her Foundation.
The Greater Buffalo Gymnastics & Fitness Center and Greater Buffalo Children's Park were all built behind the Hirsch Family's driving force of education and health. This specially designed complex allows for fun, fit, learning activities the whole family can enjoy and are some of the same principles that made Torey and Sharon Hirsch open the doors to the Greater Buffalo Gymnastics Center over 21 years ago.