The YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region is going strong on its 139th anniversary. It has become, in the words of its President/CEO Boyd Williams, "one of the most cutting-edge YMCAs in the country."

There's more to come, Williams told the 400 guests and staff at the annual dinner and celebration March 22 at The Broadmoor. More than 65,000 people participated in Y programs in 2017. "We want to be the program provider of choice for kids, families and seniors," Williams said.

A shining light is the 7th Grade Initiative, which offers free YMCA memberships to seventh-graders at selected schools in Districts 11, 2 and 38. Panorama Middle School is "right around the corner from the Southeast Y," noted Principal Elizabeth Domangue, and she delights in watching "a gaggle of students running to the Y after school." Said Domangue, "Schools cannot bear all the responsibility. It is so important to have community partners like the Y."

Williams also reported a projected Sept. 15 east-side opening for the new Creps Family YMCA off Powers Boulevard. In addition, it's rolling out a new program with Children's Hospital, he announced.

The annual celebration traditionally is packed with testimonials by those who grew up as "Y kids" or have been helped by staff and programs.

Barb Winter, recipient of the Y's top community award, said the two corporate entities she has worked for, Ent Credit Union and CIG, had important ties with the Y and offered employee memberships.

Winter's own ties go back to being a "Y kid" from a single-parent home. But she never learned to swim because an accident as a child made her fear water. Not until her bucket list at age 40 did she take swim lessons, joining the children in the Y's TOW (Terrified of Water) class, blowing bubbles in the water. Today she's a master scuba diver. There was no doubt that her daughter, Shelby, would take swimming lessons as a child, she said, laughing.

Guest speaker Todd Evans, Fountain's deputy city manager, has lived by the mantra, "Find your place of solace." From a troubled home in a tough Albuquerque neighborhood "with nowhere to go," he found his place at the YMCA playing basketball every day. College and a law enforcement career followed. His son, Ty, Colorado's Gatorade Player of the Year as Palmer Ridge quarterback, also made the Y his place. There were pick-up games for hours, especially on snow days. Said Ty, "The Y is a place for anybody and everybody to get together." Ty brought his Gatorade Play It Forward award of $11,000 as a donation to the Y.

The Inspirational Comeback Story was from extreme athlete Jennie, who suffered severe physical and brain injuries when she was hit on her bike. Recovery seemed hopeless and insurance problems insurmountable, she said, until the staff at the Downtown Y asked how they could help. Physical therapy, Pilates, strength training and hard work have her planning again for triathlons, climbing 14ers and backcountry snowshoeing.

Among the annual awards presented during the evening: first Community Partnership Award, Care and Share Food Bank; Angel Award, Drew Aquino and Chris Kasper, Southeast Y.


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