After Hurricane Sandy

MTs Launch Massage Without Borders to Help Colleagues in Need

By By Jed Heneberry

On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit near Atlantic City, New Jersey, moved up the East Coast, and left a path of death and destruction in its wake. Massage therapists and bodyworkers were among those who lost everything, and they’re still at work rebuilding their lives and their practices, with help from their peers. 

Massage Without Borders (MWB) was founded soon after the storm in order to reach massage therapists and bodyworkers who were seriously impacted. This nonprofit, grassroots effort fueled by bodyworkers has already distributed more than $10,000 in financial and product donations, including massage tables and other aid, to working therapists. Gloria Coppola, the founder of MWB, says the experience has been overwhelming. “It’s been quite the roller coaster ride. Up with joy, down with tears.” 

Coppola, owner of Massage Pro C.E. and a 2011 Massage Therapy Hall of Fame inductee, used to own a massage school in New Jersey. Once the hurricane hit, her community of former students began calling her for help—mostly on behalf of others. “People were not concerned about themselves,” Coppola says. “To hear their stories and see them come together made me feel like a proud mama.” 

One of those stories was Lisa Mayer’s, who was forced out of her house for three weeks and lost nearly all of her personal possessions, including her massage table. Mayer’s first concern, though, was for her clients. “This is the mentality of our profession,” Coppola says. Angel Cardone Allaire reached out to Coppola, her former massage teacher, to see if anything could be done to help her friend Mayer. Coppola initially asked for one donated massage table—she received 20, and MWB was born.

“People have lost everything and are hurting,” Coppola says, “but they are more concerned about helping others. It’s so beautiful, and it keeps me going. Everyone who receives something is paying it forward.” 

William Fee, president of MWB, concurs. “This has been the most gratifying part of all, watching the massage community rally together. We are seeing donations from individual therapists, former therapists, small companies, and the largest names and companies in massage [Biofreeze, Custom Craftworks, Earthlite, Oakworks, 3B Scientific, and more]. It’s amazing when you think it all started with just one phone call. 

“It has been an incredible experience to watch this grow, and it has been the people who have stood out the most. I remember the faces of the therapists we have helped—the looks of joy, gratitude, and relief they shared when we were able to help even in a small way. That will stay with me a long time, because they knew their colleagues cared, they were not alone, and they were able to get to a better place even for a short time.” 

Future Goals

MWB will be continuing to raise money and accept donations to
help Sandy survivors. A national fundraising event is scheduled for
May 20–25, and T-shirts are available at, with all proceeds going to the charity. 

Coppola says MWB is interested in expanding its mission beyond Hurricane Sandy assistance to be
able to more broadly serve MTs
in need. 

Jed Heneberry is assistant editor at ABMP. Contact him at

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