Campaign kick-off

“Do it one person at a time,” were the inspirational words spoken by a campaign chair during a local facility’s annual fundraiser.

The Wapakoneta Family YMCA kicked off their annual campaign on Wednesday, and chair Van Wright spoke to a room full of supporters to help with this cause.

“Our goal is to make sure the YMCA doors are open to everyone,” Wright said.

The annual support campaign helps to raise funds, as more than 10 percent of the members of the YMCA are receiving some form of financial assistance.

“Every gift is important,” Wright said.

The funds raised this year will help support families, seniors and individuals who cannot afford to be a part of the YMCA.

“Each of them contributes some money, and the campaign funds are used to make up the difference,” Wright said of people receiving assistance from the YMCA.

Two senior citizens who benefit from the assistance program by providing them with a membership to the YMCA voice their gratitude for the donors.

Alvina Thomas, who has been a member of the local YMCA for the past 10 years, would not be able to afford a membership to the YMCA on her own with her current medical expenses.

“When I retired, I had a heart attack, and that’s when I really started coming to the Y,” Thomas said.

Thomas began taking water aerobics and now she bicycles.

“I appreciate the YMCA’s help,” Thomas said to the room full of YMCA supporters. “I pay $12,000 a year in medical bills, and you have no idea how much this has helped me.”

Thomas said her husband has Alzheimer’s and is in a nursing home, so not only does the YMCA provide her with exercise to keep healthy, but it helps her to keep her mind off of things.

“I thought when I got older, I wouldn’t be in this predicament,” Thomas said, “but I’m 80-years-old and I’m not slowing down.”

Another person who spoke during the campaign kick-off at the Wapakoneta Family YMCA was Rita Williamson.

“Coming to the YMCA lets me feel alive,” Williamson said. “The scholarship program provides people as myself a way to enjoy the Y.”

Williamson talked about some of her medical issues she has dealt with, and she noted how the staff at the YMCA is supportive of her and how they take the time to work with her.

“I use the facility for exercising, physical therapy, swimming and Christian interaction with other people,” Williamson said.

Williamson, who spoke to the campaigners from her wheelchair, said she is able to move her legs, arms and body from the use of the Senior Splash program.

“The instructors are helping to improve my walking up and down stairs for daily activities,” Williamson said.

While being a dedicated member of the YMCA, she had the opportunity to teach her granddaughter how to swim before she could walk.

One goal Williamson has for herself is to be able to dance again one day.

“The scholarship program for poverty levels and handicap people is very necessary,” Williamson said.

Wapakoneta Family YMCA CEO Joshua Little said these are only two stories out of the nearly 1,000 people who benefit from the assistance program the YMCA offers.

“The mission statement of the Y is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all,” Little said. “And ‘for all’ is the most important part.”

The goal is to be able to make the YMCA available for all, Little said.

The Wapakoneta Family YMCA serves nearly 1,400 people, including 29 families and 61 children in child care and day camp through financial assistance.

The YMCA receives more than $100,000 in requests for financial assistance, and this amount is also the goal of this year’s campaign, which runs until March 7.

During the campaign kick-off, campaign folders were passed out to volunteers in the community who are helping support this campaign. These campaigners are either on the board for the Wapakoneta Family YMCA, an avid supporter of the efforts of the YMCA or are members of the YMCA who are helping with this annual campaign effort.

Wright summed up the 13th annual campaign kick-off when he said “We are proud of our small town YMCA.”