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YMCA Celebrates its first LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA Graduation

Monday, May 16, 2016

At the Y, we believe in offering the gift of hope to cancer patients. LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA allows survivors to come to the Y to heal. Cancer knows no boundaries, but we believe in the strength of community, and that every survivor deserves unconditional support, and to feel “normal”. The Kosciusko Community YMCA recently hosted a graduation ceremony for the first class of eight graduates from the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program, a twelve week wellness and recovery program for cancer survivors. The graduation was held at the Parkview Warsaw YMCA. Family members, friends, program partners, and YMCA staff came to support the survivors on their wellness journey.
“The LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA coaches are proud of our graduates for their commitment to the program. They are a great group of women who supported each other throughout the program.” stated Brenda Allbritten, LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA Coach, and wellness lead for the program at the Kosciusko Community YMCA.
Throughout the ceremony, the graduates provided testimonials on what the program meant to them. “I am a stage 4 cancer patient. I had surgery in November and my oncologist recommend the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program so that I could learn good exercise and walking techniques to get my strength back after surgery and prepare myself for radiation. The staff has been tremendous and I am truly committed to “not quitting” to stay as strong as I can as long as I can.” Another graduate added, “The reason I came to the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program is because I have stage 2 uterine cancer. What this program has done for me is to help build endurance, strength, and stamina. LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA has given me a happier spirit. The staff has been phenomenal. You get support from the coaches and also the other people in the program. I would recommend this program to anyone that is going through cancer, or has had cancer. It is a life changer!”
Each participant received a certificate of completion, a photo of their class, and stationary with stamps to encourage the graduates to stay connected in a meaningful way. The ceremony was followed by brunch, conversation, pictures of the graduates, and ended with a prayer and ceremonial balloon launch by the YMCA’s Director of Christian Emphasis, Matt Goebel. He says, “The LIVESTRONG® program at the YMCA is great because it really strives to focus on the mind, body and spirit. Some other programs miss the spirit part, but it is always important to remember that our ultimate strength and hope rest in Jesus our Lord.”
“Eight survivors gained cardio endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. Equally important, each participant gained the love of exercise as a successful way to feel better. Many stories were told of how life outside of the YMCA gained excitement and new adventures. Being the first class, they were the guinea pigs and very tolerant of what we introduced to them at the YMCA. Always with a smile and happy to be together, I could not be more proud of each of the survivors. I am certain each of them will continue their physical health and well-being thru activities at the YMCA,” says Brenda Allbritten, LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA Coach, and wellness lead for the program at the Kosciusko Community YMCA.
LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA is a nationally recognized twelve-week, small group wellness recovery program designed for adult cancer survivors; it is collaboration between the LIVESTRONG Foundation and selected YMCA’s across the country. This program fulfills the important need of supporting the increasing number of cancer survivors who find themselves in the transitional period between completing their cancer treatment and the shift to feeling physically and emotionally strong enough to attempt to return to their normal life or their “new normal”. The YMCA is truly thankful of our funding partners at the K21 Health Foundation for their financial support of the program. The YMCA was honored to have both Holly Monroe Swoverland and Jennifer Lewis Stewart in attendance for the first graduating class.
“K21 is so excited to have been able to help the YMCA bring the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program to our community. We look forward to hearing great reports about future participants, as well as the STAYSTRONG at the YMCA class which has been created for program graduates,” says Holly Monroe, K21 Health Foundation.
“Our goal is to help participants build muscle mass and muscle strength, increase flexibility and endurance and improve functional ability,” stated Stacy Thomas, Director of Healthy Living at the YMCA. Additional goals include reducing the severity of therapy side effects, preventing unwanted weight changes and improving energy levels and self-esteem. A final goal of the program is to assist participants in developing their own physical fitness program so they can continue to practice a healthy lifestyle, not only as part of their recovery, but as a way of life. In addition to the physical benefits, LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA provides participants a supportive environment and a feeling of community with their fellow survivors, YMCA staff and members.
LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA Coaches work with each participant to fit the program to their individual needs and are trained in the elements of cancer, post rehab exercise and supportive cancer care. One participant said of the program, “I came to the LIVESTRONG® program at the YMCA because I needed help gaining my strength, stamina, and vitality. I can say through this program I have achieved all of those things along with a sense of well-being. It is not just the physical exercise but the mental exercise that has been surprisingly supportive. I would encourage the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program to any cancer patient or survivor. It is truly helpful and life changing.”
“Through LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA, we are able to offer those who have been diagnosed with cancer the support they need to build both emotional and physical strength in reclaiming their health,” stated Chad Zaucha, CEO, of the Kosciusko Community YMCA. The twelve week program is offered at no cost to the participant and is open to the community.
To view photos and personal stories from our LIVESTRONG at the YMCA graduation, please visit: For more information on the Kosciusko Community YMCA or the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program, visit or contact Stacy Thomas at or 574-269-9622 X216.
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change.