Stories of Impact
The YMCA is more than a gym—it's a community. Meeting new friends, gaining the support you've always wanted, and finding inspiration in others is what we're all about. If you have a story you want to share, pass it on! Simply contact our Digital Media Specialist with all leads.
Digital Media Specialist
Featured Member & Staff Testimonials:
Four years ago, half of Joe Ferrerio’s body was paralyzed, and he was blind in one eye. He had a fall that caused a subdural hematoma—bleeding outside of and around the brain—and he was told by his doctors that he had just one year to regain the mobility he had lost.
Now, at 87 years old, Joe has not only regained the mobility he lost from his fall, but also is able to do things he wasn’t able to before his accident. He shared that he wouldn’t be where he is today without the help of the Monroe County YMCA.
“At my age, you sit in a wheelchair and be depressed; no creativity and no confidence, that’s for sure. Margie has given me the opportunity to get better. [The Y has given me the opportunity to get better by providing me with financial assistance] for the classes that saved my life, as a matter of fact. That’s it. If I weren’t here, I’d be stuck in a chair, depressed, grouchy… and it doesn’t work like that. There’s something to look forward to; the rainbow is there, not the clouds.
I’m out doing something during the day. The confidence is what’s being built up [by HHAL]. I don’t have to say 'gee, I’ll never move that again' because I’m moving it already. Just get up and do it, why not? I’m confident I can almost participate like a 'normal' human being at this point. Maybe I am.”
For many aging adults, finding the right form of exercise can be a challenge. With increasing joint pain, as well as weaning flexibility and agility, exercise can feel limiting. At the Monroe County YMCA, we believe water exercise is the solution for older adults who desire an active lifestyle.
Donna Fromm, a member of our Y since it opened its doors in 1981, reflected on the water’s impact on her life. She shared, “to be able to move… unencumbered, and not feel the stress on your joints, it’s very freeing. It’s emotionally lifting in many ways. It is exhilarating to be in [the] class and run again. It’s exhilarating to do things we aren’t able to do otherwise.”
Five years ago, Ellie O’Connor had been in the hospital for open heart surgery. When her cardiac rehabilitation with IU Health ended, her doctors recommended that she become a member of the Y to continue her recovery in our Cardiac Rehab class. Little did Ellie know, that recommendation would change her life.
Ellie shared that “at 72 years old, [she has] never felt better in [her] life [when it comes to] moving.” She also shared that two of the most significant benefits of participating in our Healthy Lifestyles programs are the “circle of friends and support” that are gained. Moving for a Healthier You provides a “good support system,” which can have an incredible impact on life as an aging adult.
Mary Grogan went from being unable to walk to her mailbox to taking multiple HIIT classes a day! In 2010, she suffered a serious back injury and was over 300 pounds overweight. Mary was able to incrementally work towards recovery by visiting the Y daily and exercising in the Aquatic Center. Over the next five years, she was able to recover and even lose 250 pounds in the same pool. Over time, she fell in love with Group Ex classes. Her pre-pandemic schedule included many trips to the Y – sometimes even in the same day!
As a former recipient of financial support from our Y for All Scholarship Fund, which provides reduced memberships and programming for those in need, Mary has nothing but words of gratitude for the Y. She shares, “The biggest change after joining the Y is I am able to live my life! I travel a lot, so now I can run through an airport if I need to. There were literally times when I had to be in a wheelchair in an airport. To be able to live my life the way I want to live it and be healthy – it means everything to me."