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Simply put, your gift changes lives. Every dollar given to the YMCA goes directly to help children and families participate in YMCA memberships and programs, regardless of their financial circumstances. Through YMCA involvement, families become closer, children grow and blossom, seniors discover new energy, and those with disabilities find new abilities and new hope. But don't just take our word for it! The real impact of your generosity is best told by those who benefit from your gift. Here are just a few of their stories…
Much More Than Camp
Doctors diagnosed Walter with autism at the age of two. “I was told by doctors to not get my hopes up to ever have a meaningful conversation with him or for him to be able to talk,” remembers his mother, Heather. After spending all summer at the Tampa YMCA swimming, playing sports and taking field trips, Walter’s social and verbal skills grew tremendously. “I was so happy. I just wanted to stay there for the whole year,” recalls Walter. His experience at the Y is even impacting his performance at school. “He is now in a mainstream class and I think the Y had a huge part in doing that,” claims Heather.
Most importantly, Walter learned a life-saving skill at summer camp. “Mr. deathly afraid of water came in here saying, ‘I will never be able to learn how to swim’,” says Heather. But ask Walter what he did this summer and he instantly replies, “I learned how to swim!” In fact, Walter loves swimming so much; he keeps begging his mom for a pool. He says, “I want a house that has a pool that goes 12 feet!”
Today, Walter is considered a very high-functioning autistic child; quite a difference from the boy who couldn’t even speak until he turned five. Heather says, “Without the Y, I don’t think that he would be able to do it.”
Walter's personal story is unique, but his Y camp story is not. Each year, we provide kids with a fun, safe camp experience; surrounding them with caring, supportive adults who encourage children to learn who they are and discover what they can become. Summer camp at the Y is more than a memorable experience. Y camp teaches kids values and skills they will carry with them throughout their lives.
Living Without Limits
A week after Carla turned 15, she learned she had bone cancer. The discovery started with a fall down the stairs. “I passed it off as a misstep on the stairs, but it was actually the first sign of the cancer deteriorating my right femur bone,” shares Carla. “I thought of cancer as a disease that people get when they are older. Reality didn’t sink in until my treatment actually started. It was scary to me.” To prevent the risk of immobility, cancer reoccurrence, or even death--Carla’s parents made the difficult decision to have their daughter’s leg amputated in 2006.
Now with a permanent prosthetic leg, Carla is a member of the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program. “I checked other local places but I stopped looking when I came here. There are lots of people here on many different fitness levels, so I never felt like I was being judged. What really made me stay was how great the staff is. They really tried to get to know me on a personal level. You can tell everyone at the Y wants to help and encourage you to succeed in any goal you want,” says Carla, whose story is so inspirational, she’s even featured in the local news. Click here to watch her in action.
The Tampa Y makes providing cancer survivors, like Carla, a place to heal a priority. Just like cancer impacts all, our program impacts all. The LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program offers summer camp for kids fighting the battle of their lives, helps young, newly diagnosed moms manage their kids' needs and sports activities, provides activities for seniors and offers one-on-one personal training sessions to strengthen the body and the spirit.
Like many other LIVESTRONG® participants, Carla says she leaves the Y with “great confidence to know that with hard work and willpower, I can definitely achieve anything I desire.” Please help the Tampa Y change the odds for cancer survivors - make a donation today and help strengthen our community.
Harry Living Strong at the Y
For more than 22 years, cancer has been a part of Harry's life. Diagnosed 22 years ago with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, he was given just a 28-percent chance of survival.
Harry beat the odds, but currently has chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Cancer has changed Harry. He wonders about every bump and worries every time something doesn't feel right. The thought of cancer never leaves him. But staying positive helps him refocus on the good things in life and the positive steps he's made. He gets that positive energy from the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program. Working with staff members who know how cancer affects a body, he feels confident his body is getting what it needs. But the LIVESTRONG® program also provides him with the spiritual and emotional support he needs for his battle.
In 2011, the Tampa Y expanded its LIVESTRONG® program throughout our Association, making providing cancer survivors and their families a place to heal a priority. Just like cancer impacts all, our program impacts all from offering a LIVESTRONG® summer camp for kids fighting the battle of their lives and helping young, newly diagnosed moms manage their kids' needs and sports activities to providing LIVESTRONG® activities for seniors and offering one-on-one personal training sessions that strengthen the body and the spirit.
Like many other LIVESTRONG® participants, Harry truly believes the LIVESTRONG® program makes his life better each day. Please help the Tampa Y change the odds for cancer survivors - make a donation today and help strengthen our community.