SOUTHINGTON - The Southington YMCA will share member success stories at its annual Campaign Kickoff Breakfast March 24.
The breakfast will be held at 7:30 a.m. at the YMCA at 29 High St. The event will begin the YMCA’s fundraising efforts this year and show visitors how those funds make an impact on the lives of local people. Speakers will include John Myers, executive director, Dan Daigle, board president, Diane McNicholas-Botsacos, annual campaign chair and donors to the Blakeslee Foundation, a group of people who donate more than $1,000 to the YMCA annually.
“It is important that people know that the YMCA is not just a gym and swimming pool,” said Shannon Eterginio, community development director. “We are an integral part of the community and our staff and family all support this cause financially and with volunteer time. This will be a good way to see the direct impact your contributions have on the community and really brings it to life.”
As part of the event, the YMCA will show a video about 4-year-old Mason, 58-year-old Mark Minor, 7-year-old Jaxson Ly and 14-year-old Christian Cahill.
Mason, Eterginio said, is a YMCA scholarship and financial aid recipient whose mother is in rehab and whose father only earns a little more than minimum wage. When he first came to the YMCA, Eterginio said, Mason had behavioral issues and was delayed in his learning. Now, she said, Mason is excelling both academically and behaviorally.
Minor is a liver cancer survivor who came to the YMCA without a lot of confidence, but who gained his confidence back as well as his strength through the Livestrong program that the YMCA is partnered with. Cancer survivors meet in circles to talk and also exercise together with the program. Minor now participates in cross country bike rides.
Ly participated in last year’s Race 4 Chase, a children’s triathlon program founded by Rebecca Kowalski in honor of her son Chase, who was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting. Ly started training for the Race 4 Chase not knowing how to ride a bike. By the end of the six-week training program, during which he visited the YMCA every day, Eterginio said his confidence and skills were transformed. Ly’s mother wrote a letter to the YMCA saying that her “heart melted” watching him compete.
Cahill, who started coming to YMCA Camp Sloper six years ago, was named Camper of the Year last year. Despite a tough living situation in which he lives with his grandmother along with his siblings and cousins, he is always kind to the other kids, according to Eterginio.
“He sits with the little ones and the Sloper staff said to me that he is such a calming force,” said Eterginio. “He is also an honors student as a freshmen at Southington High School and a musician. He’s a kind soul.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.