SOUTHINGTON - Town leaders, business owners and heads of nonprofits joined the Southington-Cheshire Community YMCA for its Campaign Kickoff Breakfast Thursday.
YMCA leaders hope to raise $350,000 this year to provide YMCA programs and services to those who would otherwise be unable to afford them. The stated theme of this year’s campaign is “This is Y - Opportunities For All.”
A model of a thermometer will be placed in the lobby of the Y at 29 High St. to show fundraising progress.
Dan Daigle, chairman of the Y’s Board of Directors, listed the programs that will benefit from donations, including child care, the Livestrong program for cancer survivors, the Race4Chase Triathlon held at Camp Sloper, and the day camp itself.
Annual Support Campaign Chair Paula Knight honored the achievements of John Myers, the executive director, who, she said, has raised millions of dollars for the Y. He plans to retire at the end of the year.
Knight then spoke of the increased need for support in the local community.
She shared the stories of four people who had benefitted personally from Y programs. After showing a video in which they told their stories, they were invited to stand and be applauded.
First up was Leo, a boy being raised by his grandmother, who had to come out of retirement to support him. He receives financial assistance to attend the Y’s preschool program.
Another video told the story of Shawn, known at the Y as “Big Shawn,” who mentors younger children in the Afternoon Outreach program and plays board games and kickball with them.
The third told the story of Jaiden, a boy who attended YMCA Camp Sloper and later with his mother’s help donated $100 to this year’s Sloper Plunge.
Finally came the story of Colleen Riopelle, who was working out with a friend when the friend noticed her looking disoriented and dropping her phone. She was having a stroke, and her friend knew the warning signs. She was taken to HOCC Bradley Memorial and then to Hartford Hospital, where she suffered two more strokes overnight.
“A normal gym wouldn’t have cared. They would have let me drive home,” said Riopelle, who was in tears as she stood at the podium with her family. “If I wasn’t part of the Y, I would have probably got in my car and not made it home.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.