Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Join us November 17 to celebrate one of Raleigh's most revered leaders, Mayor Clarence E. Lightner, and help us honor the teens who participate in the YMCA Leadership Development program that bears his name - Clarence E. Lightner YMCA Achievers Program.

The keynote speaker will be Brett C. Carter, President of Duke Energy North Carolina. He is responsible for advancing the company’s rate and regulatory initiatives and managing state and local regulatory and governmental relations, economic development and community affairs.

Carter was named as a 2010 Charlotte Father of the Year by the National Father’s Day Council. He also received the Whitney M. Young Award from the Urban League of Central Carolinas for outstanding dedication to philanthropy, diversity and inclusion.

Mark your calendar for the Lightner YMCA Achievers Leadership Banquet on Thursday, Nov. 17 at 6 pm at the North Raleigh Hilton.

Tickets are $65 each, and are available through the YMCA. Please email Jessica Howard for more information.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Join your YMCA friends at the City of Oaks Marathon on Nov. 6. In fact, we're so excited about promoting healthy living in our community that we're sponsoring the YMCA Kids Marathon Mile for children ages 7 - 14!

There are 3 easy ways for you to participate in this new event. We just kids to set goals, get active, and just have fun!

• Full marathon: Complete 25.2 miles prior to the race. Complete your final mile on race day.

• Half marathon: Complete 12.1 miles prior to the race. Complete your final mile on race day.

• One-mile Fun Run: No pre-race running required.

Where: Meet us at the NC State Bell Tower at 7 am on November 6.

Registration Information: Go to www.cityofoaksmarathon.com to register. YMCA Participants receive $10 off any race entry fee. Just use discount code: rcooymca.

Each runner will receive a race bib, pull-string race bag, a finisher medal and an awesome experience as they cross the finish line. Participants will enjoy a pancake breakfast after the race.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


PGA Pro Bobby Clampett

Today, nearly a dozen students in the YMCA of the Triangle’s Y Learning Tutorial Program got a sneak peek at the SAS Championship. And, the students from Reedy Creek Middle School actually got to hit the driving range!

“This is a great opportunity for these children,” says Brad Davis, YMCA of the Triangle Vice President of Development. “The students are really excited about meeting some pros, and actually picking up a golf club. It is also a wonderful way for the kids to see the championship that helps make Y Learning possible.”

Proceeds from the 2011 SAS Championship will benefit Y Learning, the YMCA of the Triangle’s standardized after school tutorial program that is funded through the Y’s annual WeBuildPeople Campaign. This is the second year that the YMCA’s Y Learning program was selected as the tournament’s charity of choice. Last year, the tournament provided $200,000 to Y Learning.                                

“The YMCA of the Triangle does amazing work in its service for our community,” said Jeff Kleiber, Tournament Director of the SAS Championship. “Y Learning, the camp offerings, the character and leadership development are major contributions toward serving the needs of our underserved children. We are thrilled to be able to support this truly wonderful organization.”

Over the past 10 years, the SAS Championship has provided more than $2.5 million toward local community outreach programs.


Meet the Lucas Family from the Cary Family Y!

Paul, Beth, Jacob and Maddie are the perfect example of a healthy lifestyle change.
The Lucas Family

They went from unhealthy eating habits and inactivity to Paul completing an ironman triathlon – 140.6 miles total!

He has been a great role model for the whole family. Ten-year-old Maddie has completed several 5Ks, several kids triathlons and an adult sprint triathlon. Seven-year-old Jacob has completed a few duathlons and kids triathlons as well.

Paul and Beth have both reduced their medications. They have made exercise and healthy eating a family journey. The Lucas family is truly an inspiration to all families that are trying to make healthy changes.

The Y sponsored the YMCA Healthy Lifestyle Change Award as part of the American Heart Association's Triangle Heart Walk. We asked Y members, staff and the general public to nominate people who took the first step toward healthy living. Winners were announced at the walk on Sept. 25.

Congratulations to the Lucas family, and the other folks, who made a commitment to a healthy lifestyle change.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Put on your walking shoes, and come out to the American Heart Association Heart Walk on Sunday, Sept. 25 at the RBC Center at 1:00 pm.
Participate in interactive booths, see who won the YMCA Lifestyle Change award, and walk one or three miles. All ages are welcome. You can even bring your dog! And best of all, it’s free. Register here to join our team.

Friday, September 9, 2011


More than 13,000 fathers and their children participate in YMCA Guides & Princesses. Small groups, known as tribes, make up the Arapahoe Nation.


We thought you’d want to know that Matt “Moose” Strickland, Y Guides Senior Director, has been offered an exciting opportunity to be Executive Director of a local nonprofit, Band Together.
While we will miss Matt’s leadership, sense of fun and incredible energy, we’re happy about the bright possibilities in his future. Matt’s last day at Y Guides will be Sept. 30.

Don’t worry. Y Guides will be in the capable hands of Andrew “Golden Otter” Crook, Abby “Red Fox” Van Noppen and Tim "Yeti" Whitehouse.

The Y Guides calendar is packed with fun events in the next few weeks. We’re looking forward to our third Rockmont weekend, Sept. 9 – 11. More than 1,000 folks are signed up for our Stop Hunger Now Meal packaging event on Sept. 11. And, Fall Outings are just around the corner.

If you have any questions, just contact our team at how-how@arapahoe-nation.org. Please join us in congratulating him on Facebook.

To Matt, and to you, may the Great Spirit make the sun rise in your heart.


Friday, September 2, 2011


Camp Sea Gull for Boys and Camp Seafarer for girls are the YMCA of the Triangle's overnight camps located on the North Carolina Coast.

What a difference a week makes!

As Hurricane Irene pounded areas along the North Carolina coast, Camp Sea Gull and Camp Seafarer staff were already planning for cleanup and recovery. 

Camp during the hurricane

Professional tree removal crews, engineers and contractors were dispatched to the area. Camp staff worked extra hours securing the property. After all, this is a special place for folks all around the nation. Just take a look at the progress they made in a few days.
Hurricane cleanup

Many of our Camp staff saw significant damage to their own homes. Yet, they’ve been more concerned about their neighbors and the community at large.

In fact, National Guard units set up camp at Seafarer on Monday.

“They just wanted a place to sleep and take a shower,” said Sarah Rhymer, Director of Community Programs for Camp Sea Gull and Camp Seafarer. “They were so grateful.”

National Guard at Camp Seafarer

Since then, a number of groups have asked for our assistance. And, Camp Sea Gull and Camp Seafarer staff are very excited about the possibilities.

We'll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


We've extended the deadline for you to nominate someone for the YMCA Lifestyle Change Award! Complete a nomination form by Sept. 9. Four winners will get a free year at the Y! Click here for nomination forms.

We're sponsoring the Lifestyle Change Award in conjunction with the American Heart Association's Triangle Heart Walk on Sept. 25.

Help us fight heart disease. Register and join the YMCA of the Triangle team for a free 1-mile or 3-mile walk.  

Monday, August 29, 2011


Remember Charlie Cawley? He got his second lease on life at the Alexander Family YMCA. After years of smoking, he was diagnosed with COPD.

“The doctor told me that I had the lung capacity of an 80-year-old,” Charlie said. “I was only 65!”
Charlie at the Y

Charlie turned to the Y to live a healthier life.

“I had a membership to the Y for a few years, and I figured  I might as well use it!” Charlie joked.

Today, he exercises 3 -4 times a week. He’s off all medications and says he feels like an 18-year-old.

If you know someone like Charlie, nominate him or her for the YMCA Lifestyle Change Award in conjunction with the Triangle Heart Walk on Sept. 25 at the RBC Center. Click here for a registration form.

Complete a nomination form by Sept. 2. Four winners will get a free year at the Y! Click here for nomination forms.

And be sure to register and join the YMCA of the Triangle team for a free 1-mile or 3-mile walk.


Camp Sea Gull and Camp Seafarer are our overnight camps located in Arapahoe, NC. With a focus on seamanship, discovery and can-do attitudes, Camp Sea Gull and Camp Seafarer are the best place for young people to learn, grow and thrive.

Ahoy There!

As you can see from the pictures, Hurricane Irene caused significant erosion along the shoreline where we did not have rock protection. The storm downed about three dozen trees at both camps. And the high water mark is higher than we have seen in more than 40 years.

There is some minor structural damage to about five buildings. Though the pictures are shocking, the damage is relatively small.

There is some good news. Our staff members are safe. Our buildings are all very well built and are in great shape. The concrete pier was a terrific investment. It is sound. The shoreline that has been reinforced with rock is in good shape.

Our great maintenance staff, with support from the YMCA of the Triangle will soon have us back on our feet. We've already  contacted tree surgeons, engineers and dedicated volunteers waiting to help with repairs.

Camp offices are closed today because there is no power in most parts of Pamlico County and there is a “boil water” notice in effect. We’re cancelling Family Camp this weekend so that our staff can focus on getting back to normal.

Thank you all for offering to help our camp family. Continue supportive calls and e-mails – but don’t expect an immediate response. Their focus is on clean up and recovery.

We’ll bring you updates in the days ahead.

Friday, August 19, 2011


We’ve all been touched by heart disease in some way. That's why we’re teaming up with the American Heart Association for the Triangle Heart Walk on Sept. 25 to help deal with this national crisis. There are several ways you can get involved.

  • Nominate someone (even yourself!) for the YMCA Lifestyle Change Award.  Do you know a youth, adult or family who has made a healthy lifestyle change? Complete a nomination form by Sept. 2. Four winners will get a free year at the Y! Click here for nomination forms.
  • Participate in the Triangle Heart Walk on Sunday, Sept. 25 at the RBC Center. Register and join the YMCA of the Triangle team for a free 1-mile or 3-mile walk. Just follow these directions to register: 
  • Improve Your Heart Rate. Do the Heart-Healthy Challenge and be active an hour a day for 6, 13, or 26 days.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Watch some of golf’s greatest players and help the YMCA of the Triangle's We Build People Campaign!

The SAS Championship returns to Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, Sept. 26 – Oct. 2. YMCA members are eligible to receive discounted tickets to the 11th Annual Champions Tour golf event.
And Y members can receive 50% off daily and weekly tickets. In addition, you can also save $10 off the regular price for the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Deck. These tickets give patrons one day of access to an open-air, semi-private skybox that overlooks the 17th green. For just $79, a catered lunch, snacks and drinks are included.

Click here to order tickets.
Use Promotional Code: YMCA-2011 at Checkout

Proceeds from the SAS Championship will benefit Y Learning, our standardized tutorial program funded through our annual We Build People program. 

We hope you take advantage of this wonderful offer and help children in our community who benefit from Y Learning!

Monday, August 15, 2011


Charles Cawley is a member of the Alexander Family YMCA. Read his success story.

It all started at a drive-in movie.

Charlie, only 19 at the time, smoked his first pack of cigarettes to impress his date. Nearly 45 years later, Charlie found himself facing bleak news: he had been diagnosed with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), a condition that often leads to emphysema.

“The doctor told me that I had the lung capacity of an 80-year-old,” Charlie said. “I was only 65!”
Charlie at the Y

Charles Cawley's father—a life-time smoker—had spent his last few years breathing with the assistance of an oxygen tank before he tragically passed away from emphysema. Fearful of a similar path, Charlie turned to the Y.

“I had a membership to the Y for a few years, and I figured  I might as well use it!” Charlie joked.

Charlie took it slowly. At first, he just walked a few laps around the track. Then, he added hand weights to his routine. Before long, he noticed that his morning walks with Tallulah, his white Miniature Schnauzer, were much easier.

From here, it became a game of slow addition. Charlie began watching his food intake, aiming for balanced meals while avoiding carbs and red meat.

“It isn't a diet,” Charlie explained, “I just became mindful of what I ate.”

He then added deep breathing exercises to the end of his workouts.Charlie encountered his “moment of truth” when he returned to the doctor nearly a year later.

“After running a series of tests on me, the doctor reported that I had lost thirty pounds, that my cholesterol levels had returned to normal,” Charlie recalled, “and—get this—I now had the lung capacity of a 20-year old!”

With some surprise, the doctor cancelled Charlie's prescription to treat his COPD. Charlie jokes that his prescription and his Y membership cost the same amount; so why not choose the membership?

Now, Charlie logs a two-hour workout three to four times each week. His routine includes everything from elliptical cardio to abdominal exercises, always followed by deep breathing exercises.

Charlie reports night-and-day changes. Not only does he feel stronger and more confident, but has energy to do the things he loves—such as photography. Charlie's 15-year career has earned him national acclaim as an artist in the Triangle. Look for his second book in early 2012.

“Yes, the body changes, but the soul doesn't have a clock,” Charlie said. “I feel like I'm 18-years old, and I probably always will!

In July, Charlie celebrated his 68th birthday and almost two years of being smoke-free. And if you see him around the Y, congratulate him! His weight loss is now at 45 pounds, soon to be 50.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Ready! Set! Go!

“Go Xavier! Go Jahil!”

Just after 9 am, the skies cleared and more than 125 young swimmers dove into the 2nd Swim for Life Meet at the A.E. Finley YMCA pool. It’s always amazing to watch young people show off their skills. It’s even more amazing when you consider that most of these children didn’t know how to swim before the start of the summer.
Pep talk before the race

“You’ve got a fish on your hands,” a Y counselor told a proud dad. “I know it, I know it,” said his father as he watched his son touch the side of the pool.

The swim meet is the highlight of YMCA Camp High Hopes, the Y’s fully subsidized summer day camps. This year, campers from six YMCA branches (Alexander, Cary, Durham, Kraft, A.E. Finley and Kerr YMCAs) participated in the meet. Campers competed in the following races; Breast Stroke, Back Stroke, Free Style, Butterfly, and Mixed Medley races.

“At the Y, we consider swimming an important life skill. Most of these children didn’t know how to swim before they came to our Y camps,” said Anthony Hardison, Kerr Family YMCA Community Outreach Director. “Through daily lessons, they learn basic aquatics skills. We knew if we added the competition, campers would be more excited about learning to swim.”

Nearly 60 percent of African-American children can't swim, almost twice the figure for white children, according to 2008 USA Swimming study. The YMCA wants to bridge that gap.

“It was exciting to see the volunteers and families cheer on these kids,” said Anthony. “Ten-year-old Jahil placed first in the backstroke. He couldn’t wait to show me his ribbon. And he couldn’t wait to get back in the water! That is success.”
Anthony & Jahil

More than 800 children attend YMCA summer day camp on full or partial scholarship. Swim instruction is a part of each camper’s day. Donations to the YMCA’s Annual We Build People program fund those opportunities.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Camp High Hopes is a subsidized summer day camp funded through the YMCA's We Build People campaign. Jessica Russell and Sharlene Provilus, director and head counselor at the A.E. Finley Camp High Hopes, said, “We should do this.” So they did.

August 4 at the YMCA Association's Resource Center, two dozen Camp High Hopes campers, dressed sharply in business attire, met the eyes of college recruiters from ten local colleges and universities. They put out their hands for a handshake and then went with purpose to the business of talking education, college education.
Camp High Hopes College Day

Over the seven previous weeks of Camp High Hopes, Sharlene and her co-counselor, A.J. Johnson, coached and evaluated each of these students on etiquette, listening skills, leadership and an entire menu of skills for success.

The college reps reviewed the evaluations and grade point averages and then interviewed each student. The conversations were real and the students left with an envelope marked either ACCEPTED or DEFERRED.

The emotions were also real. Some students pumped the air and celebrated, others sat in serious discussions with their friends talking about the need to get higher grades to make their dream school a possibility in the future.

The whole experience really was a dream come true.
A dream that Jessica and Sharlene and A.J. made happen. Their vision has put a target in the future for these two dozen middle schoolers and that target is acceptance into college.

"It was like watching the light go on in two dozen pairs of eyes and with that light, a shot was fired at a target," said Patti Bryce, Finley's Outreach Director. "If you were lucky enough to be there, you know how I feel."

We cannot say thank you enough to these leaders!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Bobby Sunukjian says being in the right place – at the right time – saved his life.

Bobby, Delynda and George
On October 31, the Sunukjian family heads to the Cary Y for an afternoon workout. Bobby and his wife, Rachel, drop off their two young children in the nursery. Rachel heads to her group fitness class. Thirty-eight-year-old Bobby hits the track.

When he’s done, Bobby goes to the Mens’ Locker Room to cool down.

Meantime, Cary Y staff member George Wait makes his usual rounds of the building. As he enters the locker room, George notices Bobby slumped over in a chair and unresponsive.

“Call 911 and bring the crash bag,” George exclaims over the walkie talkie.

That’s when Cary Y member Jeff Worthington walks into the locker room. Like Bobby, Jeff wants to fit in an afternoon workout. His plans change as he immediately helps George lower Bobby to the ground. By now, Bobby doesn’t have a pulse.

“One, two, three, four,” counts Jeff as George starts chest compressions on Bobby.

Delynda Ramirez-Carter works the front desk at the Cary YMCA on this Halloween. She hears George’s request over the walkie and rushes into the locker room with the automated external defibrillator or AED. George and Jeff step aside as Delynda places the AED pads on Bobby’s chest.

“Clear,” says Delynda as she administers the first shock of the AED.

Like intricate choreography, George immediately takes over with more chest compressions. Within 30 seconds, Bobby starts to become alert. George and Jeff place Bobby in the recovery position and give him oxygen.

As the fire department and EMS crew arrive, Bobby is talking and answering questions.

“Delynda and George care so deeply for the members of the Cary Y. I am thankful that I work beside such quick reacting, talented and compassionate people,” said Diane Hillsgrove, Cary Family YMCA Branch Director.

Bobby and Rachel Sunukjian have been regular members of the Cary Y. They know the faces and names of many of the friendly staff. But Bobby and Rachel didn’t know that many of those Y staff members are trained emergency responders.

“We are blessed to have staff members like George and Delynda on our team who are willing and ready to respond when life threatening situations arise,” Brad Emory, Associate Branch Director Administration, remarked. “God certainly used them on October 31 to provide the care that Bobby Sunukjian needed at that moment. “

In June, the Triangle Chapter of the American Red Cross presented George Wait and Delynda Ramirez-Carter with the Lifesaving Award for the Professional Responder, the highest award given by the American Red Cross. Click here to watch the presentation.

A healthy and very happy Bobby Sunukjian was there for the presentation.

“I couldn’t ask for a better team that day,” Bobby said at the presentation. “George and Delynda were so well trained and in the right place. The right equipment was in place. But this was much more than equipment. When it all comes together it is a like a symphony. In this case, the symphony saved my life.”

Monday, July 18, 2011

Finley Frenzy: A.E. Finley Youth Triathlon

Mark your calendar for the 2011 Finley Frenzy, the A.E. Finley YMCA's Youth Triathlon on August 21.

Reagan at 2010 Finley Frenzy
Nine-year-old Reagan Leandro decided the summer of 2010 was going to be about more than movies, silly bands and friends. She set her goal to train for the Finley Frenzy, Finley’s youth triathlon.
Her mother, Jennifer, was excited about Reagan taking the initiative to create her own healthy lifestyle. Reagan even convinced her dad, Scott, to bring her to the Finley Y every Saturday morning to prepare for the race.

“I didn’t think she would actually go through with it until we were on our family vacation this summer,” said Jennifer. “Instead of playing in the pool, she was swimming laps,” Jennifer said.

Reagan began her training by concentrating on the two portions of the triathlon that she felt would be the most difficult: swimming and running. A slow, steady training schedule of running in her neighborhood and swimming laps at the Finley pool, and whenever she could get into the water, helped build her confidence. In addition to the physical training, Reagan made healthy eating choices to support her goal of finishing. Fruits and vegetables were the order of the day!

When Sunday morning, Aug. 22 came, Reagan was nervous, yet determined to finish the race. Volunteers welcomed her to the triathlon, and directed her in line with the other some 200 participants in the swimming portion. The nerves faded and Reagan told her dad, “I can finish this.”

By then, Reagan’s hard work had paid off in other areas of her life. At soccer, she played with more energy and her new found confidence could be seen on the field. She even decided that for Christmas, she wanted a new bike, “one with gears”, so she can start work on next year’s (2011) Frenzy. When she finished the final portion – the run – she crossed the finish line and received her medal with a great big smile!

Reagan was happy to have the opportunity to take responsibility for her own actions and accomplish something that she never thought possible. Now she can incorporate her eating and workout habits into a long-range strategy for healthy living and carry over her newfound confidence into other areas that affect her life. Congratulations to her and all our other Finley participants for a job well done!

The Finley Frenzy is just one example of how the YMCA strengthens community through youth development and healthy living. We’re looking forward to another wonderful race in 2011!

To find out more about this year's 7th Annual Finley Frenzy or to sign up contact: Caitlin Palczuk.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


When we say we strengthen the foundations of the community, we mean it at the Y. Here's one of the best examples of how we focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

How tall?
What happens when you combine the expertise of WakeMed, Saint Augustine's College and the YMCA of the Triangle? We call it Healthy Communities Day. 

It started this morning at 9:00 sharp on the Saint Augustine’s College campus. More than 700 children from our subsidized Y Summer Day Camps came to get free medical screenings from WakeMed, Eye Care Associates and local dentists. They also had a lot of fun.

This amazing event started three years ago as a dream of Dexter Hebert, Community Outreach Director of the Alexander Family YMCA.

 “The Y does a lot of amazing things, but we can’t meet all of the needs of children and families in our community,” says Dexter. “It just seemed to make sense to join forces with other organizations.”
Eye screening
Dexter started with WakeMed, the Y’s community health partner and Saint Augustine’s College, the permanent home of the Alexander Family Y’s Camp High Hopes, the Y’s largest fully subsidized day camp. They were thrilled to help. In fact, they decided to offer the event to all Y outreach campers.

"Many of the children involved in YMCA outreach programs don’t have access to preventative health screenings,” said Linda Barrett, manager of WakeMed Corporate & Community Health. “It’s exciting to see so many community agencies come together to make this happen.”
This year, the Raleigh Police Department even sent some four-legged friends for a visit.

But, the real purpose of the day was summed up by nine-year-old Sha-niaya.

“Are you healthy? I am!”

YMCA Camp High Hopes and other outreach programs are funded through the Y's We Build People program. Click here to learn more.

Monday, July 11, 2011


We’re teaming up with the American Heart Association up for Triangle Heart Walk on Sept. 25. There are three easy ways to get involved. 

Nominate yourself or someone you know for the YMCA Lifestyle Change Award. Four winners who have made healthy lifestyle changes will receive a free year at the Y! Winners will include a youth, two adults and a family. Complete a nomination form by Sept. 2. Read Midge's story to see how someone made a positive lifestyle change.

Participate in the Triangle Heart Walk on Sun., Sept. 25 at the RBC Center. Join us for a one-mile or three-mile walk with fun and educational opportunities. Put on your walking shoes; bring your kids; you can even bring your dog! The walk is free, but donations to the American Heart Association will be accepted. Register here, and join the YMCA of the Triangle team. Festivities begin at 1 p.m, and the walk starts at 2 p.m.

Improve your heart rate. The Y is holding a Heart-Healthy Challenge prior to the Triangle Heart Walk. Choose your distance. Here's how it works. Be active an hour a day for 6, 13 or 26 days. Just print this handy chart to get you started.
Participating in the Triangle Heart Walk for a fun way to complete the challenge.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Marathon Training: A Helping Hand from the Y

Think training for a marathon is just too hard? Sometimes you just need some encouragement from your friends at the Y. Just ask Alexander Family YMCA member Torey Peeler.

“‘Why do you keep coming to spin class with wet hair?’” my friend Marjorie kept asking.”

It started during a grocery trip to Whole Foods, where Torey Peeler spotted the cover of Endurance Magazine promoting upcoming triathlons.

“The women on the cover just looked so empowered,” Torey said, “And she looked like a normal person—someone like me.”

Torey Peeler

Inspired by that picture, Torey made a bold commitment: she decided to complete the Ramblin’ Rose for her 50th birthday—her first sprint triathlon that included a 225-yard swim, a nine-mile bike and a two-mile run.

It was completely new ground for Torey. “I had a fear of running,” Torey recalled. “I’ve done lots of cycling and yoga, but I’ve never, ever been a runner.”

Despite her reservations, Torey began piecing together a training routine. She started by signing up for the “Do It Your Way Fitness Challenge” at the Alexander Y—a program designed to help members set and achieve fitness goals—with the personal goal of running two miles.

From there, Torey tapped into every training resource she could find, from triathlete websites to local workshops. “The instructors at the Y became my personal network for advice and encouragement,” she recalled, “They were one of the main building blocks in the whole process.”

It wasn’t long before Torey’s training regime piqued the interest of cycling buddy, Marjorie. (“I swam before cycling class, and Marjorie kept wondering why I showed up with wet hair!”) Marjorie wanted in on the fun, and the two began training together.

Just two weeks before the Ramblin’ Rose, Torey received bad news: she was diagnosed with pneumonia. But she wasn’t about to give up her months of

“My goal was to finish that race,” Torey said. “My goal had only ever been just to finish.” And on Sunday, May 22, 2011—despite doctor’s orders—that’s exactly what Torey did.

After the Race
“It was like a red-carpet moment,” she recalled. “At the end of the race, I just hugged Marjorie, laughing and crying (and coughing!) all at the same time!”

Today, Torey credits her success to the accountability, focus and encouragement of her friends at the Y, the close-knit community who supported her through her journey.

“I hated to run,” Torey said, “But I did it. I have this incredible self-satisfaction of learning and mastering something new for my 50th birthday.”


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Kraft Y Brings Out the Best in Camper

This spring semester, a 4th grader named Joseph was referred to the Kraft Y after being expelled from another youth program in the community. Program Director Brian Skilton tells us how he and his staff worked together to bring out the best in Joseph.
After speaking with Joseph’s grandmother, I learned that his situation was a tough one. His home life wasn’t picture perfect, and he was also heavy and living a very unhealthy lifestyle.
When Joseph arrived at our early arrivals and after school programs, we learned that he had trouble interacting with others, didn’t handle change well, and struggled with quick transitions. Within his first two weeks, he had started a fight, yelled profanity at other children and counselors, and arrived at the point of having a conference with myself and his grandmother to discuss if the program was the right fit.
Following the Y mission and not giving up on him, the program staff and I decided to invest in Joseph and his family to let the Kraft Y try to make a change in his life. At our next staff meeting, we discussed how to best serve Joseph and let the great child inside of him find a way to come out for good! 

We decided to each take on a specific role:
  • I committed to being a strong male role model to teach him how to be a good leader as he grows older.
  • Taylor, the site coordinator, committed herself to guiding him through conversations about life, good character and friendship.
  • Kelsie, a huddle counselor, decided to use knowledge she had gained through classes in child nutrition and wellness to help him begin a healthier lifestyle and lose weight.
  • And Marc, a huddle counselor, promised to use skills he had gained through obtaining a teaching certification to help Joseph get back on track scholastically and improve his grades.
That next day, we all got to work!

After months of hard work by the staff and Joseph, things started to change. He began making friends. He started participating in games and activities. He began bringing healthier snacks and being more active. Most important, his attitude towards life and others changed for the better. We started seeing Joseph ask to help as a leader in the program. We saw him setting great examples with his behavior for other children in the program. We also saw a happy side of Joseph that didn’t come out before.
One day, his grandmother notified us that she would be sending a therapist to our after school program once a week to work with Joseph and help him continue to find ways to keep his life moving on the right track. By early May, we witnessed a huge breakthrough.
He and his therapist were sitting at a table by themselves in the cafeteria, and Taylor just so happened to overhear their conversation.
“How are things going, Joseph?” asked the therapist.
“Oh, they’re going a lot better!” replied Joseph.
“Oh really,” said the therapist, “and why do you think that is?”
“Well, it’s definitely because of the YMCA. They help me stay active, and that’s gotta be a good thing! I’ve made more friends, and I like to play in all of the fun games. And the last time I went to my doctor, he told me I’ve lost 10 pounds. ”
Taylor began to feel a sense of pride and happiness at the sound of this news, and as she looked at Joseph and his therapist, they could do nothing but talk with smiles on their faces.
Since then, Joseph has continued to stay active, lose weight, and be an invested camper before and after school. His grades and behavior in his classroom have improved dramatically, and it’s been more than four months since he has been sent to the principal’s office.
Who knows where Joseph may be without the Y, but thanks to the dedication of the staff and his willingness to try, Joseph is on a path to success!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Healthy Eating: Plate vs. Pyramid

You may have heard. The pyramid is out; the plate is in. We asked our community health partner, WakeMed, to help us understand the new USDA guidelines for heathly eating. Dietician Julie Paul explains.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently introduced the plate-shaped icon, replacing the food pyramid.  Which is better?  The answer is they are both great simple guides from the government to help you make healthy food choices.  But, it is important to note that a visual graphic is just a start.

Consumers who are interested in eating healthy and making healthy choices must do some additional research and get more information; this was as true with the pyramid as it is with the plate.

The nice thing about the plate is that it is a visual representation of what each meal should look like.  As with all simplified guidelines, there are a few possible pitfalls, including no mention of physical activity, lack of detail about how to select the healthiest foods and lack of information on portion sizes. This is where the getting additional information becomes important.

Physical Activity
Remember that to maintain a healthy weight you must consider the concept of energy balance. Put simply, to lose weight, you must eat fewer calories than you burn or burn more that you eat.  The previous version of the pyramid did emphasize the need for physical activity, an issue which the plate guide does not address.

Selecting the Healthiest Foods
Although, the new plate does emphasize eating more fruits and vegetables, there is no information about which vegetables and fruits are the best. To some, that may be translated as I should load up on fried okra and peaches canned in syrup or starchy vegetables like corn, peas, and potatoes that are three times higher in calories than green beans or broccoli.

It is also great to recommend eating more fruits and vegetables, but a clarification that this means focusing on adding fresh or frozen vegetables that are not fried or enhanced with butter, cheese or high calorie sauces would be even better. 

It is also important to eat a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables and to choose fresh fruits over canned or dried most often. Sorry, but fruit gummies are not considered a serving of fruit.

Portion Size
Portion size can be a downfall too. It is important to base your eating guidelines on a regular sized dinner plate. Believe it or not there is significant variation in plate sizes.  Follow these guidelines for choosing certain higher calorie foods:
  • 1 fruit serving = tennis ball
  • 1.5 oz. cheese = 4 stacked dice
  • 3 oz. meat = deck of cards or computer mouse
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut butter = a ping pong ball
  • 1/2 cup ice cream = 1 scoop
  • 1 oz. bread = CD case   
  • 1 cup cereal = a fist  
  • 3 oz. fish = a checkbook
  • 1 cup of rice, pasta or potatoes = baseball 

The most important thing to remember is that plate or pyramid is just a general nutrition guide that is easy to visualize and understand. If you are really trying to eat healthier, lose weight or have special nutrition needs, you will need more information to be successful.  In these cases, you may want to consider meeting with a registered dietitian for more specific advice.

Julie Paul is a registered dietitian with WakeMed ENERGIZE!, a program to help kids and teens who either have type 2 diabetes or who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes learn to make healthy lifestyle changes.  Learn more by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


At the Y, we focus on three areas: youth development, healthy living and social reponsibility.

When it comes to healthy living, most of us some extra help. In 2009, the Kraft Family Y started a program called Coaching Connections. Since its beginning, more than 2,000 people are leading healthier lives thanks to this one-on-one program.

What a difference a few months makes. Last May, Frank McLaughlin went to the hospital with severe pains in his side. Doctors discovered his cholesterol was extremely high. Frank already knew he needed to lose weight.

On his own, he lost 12 pounds. When he moved to North Carolina, Frank joined the Kraft YMCA. He immediately signed up for Coaching Connections.
Frank McLaughlin

"Thanks to Coaching Connections, I am off all medication," says Frank. "The people here are fantastic. I've reached my goal. I just need to keep up the hard work."

Coaching Connections is designed to connect YMCA members with YMCA Wellness Coaches. Through this process, members can meet their wellness goals, make lasting changes and create relationships with YMCA staff members.

Here’s how it works. The member schedules a series of coaching sessions over a six-week period. This allows the member to set realistic goals and apply lifestyle modifications. Believe it or not, this is free to all Kraft members.
And, it works! Just ask Frank.

For more information on Coaching Connections, contact the Kraft Family YMCA Welcome Center at 919-657-9622.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Y is My Connection: Mr. Lou

The Y is an important part of people's lives. Just ask Mr. Lou, a longtime A.E. Finley Y member. Hear Mr. Lou talk about his extraordinary experiences during World War II during the Finley Freedom Festival on June 26. His presentation will be in the main building at 6 p.m. Come early to get seat!

Mr. Lou
It all started when “Mr. Lou” was 11 and started swimming at the Lincoln Branch YMCA in Chicago. During the Depression, it was a safe haven where kids could get off the streets. By 14, he was handing out towels and baskets at the fitness desk in lieu of dues and playing sports. A stand-out, he brought the Y relay swim team out front with his strong freestyle stroke. And in 1940, he took home the Chicago Tribune Golden Gloves Welterweight championship.

Enlisting in the U.S. Navy at 18 right after high school, he did a 4 ½-year stint during World War II repairing aircraft in the South Pacific. Between 1942 and 1946, he served aboard a naval carrier and helped American forces police the skies. Even far from home, Mr. Lou always found a YMCA. “No matter what location, when I was in the service in the states, I always went to the Y,” he recalls. “I knew that I could leave on a break, get a fresh shower, always. That’s just one thing you could count on.”
Y Swim Team (Mr. Lou 3rd from left)

While he was training at a U.S. Navy school in Dearborn, Michigan he met his wife, Ruth at a Valentine’s Day dance. They were so smitten with each other (and he couldn’t dance anyway) that they spent the whole time talking. One thing led to another and they got engaged. While biding time before their wedding day, he rented a room briefly at the local Y near her home in Detroit. “That’s just what single men did back then,” said Mr. Lou.

Mr. Lou quickly landed a job in automotive advertising. The Y in Detroit was in a “high-rent” district. This meant an “executive” locker room and a “regular” locker room. And it was the same for the hot tubs. “It was just men and boys back then,” said Mr. Lou. “No ladies. They couldn’t even come in to wash the towels,” he adds with a laugh. Youth sports were played like intramurals with their major external rival being the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO). Here, Mr. Lou became a part-time swim instructor and that’s where the name “Mr. Lou” first took.
Golden Glove Mr. Lou

Now retired and working part-time at Finley’s fitness desk, he lives in Raleigh near his daughter (he also has a son in Michigan) and five grandchildren. Mr. Lou still marvels over the differences between the “men-only” Y and the present-day Y. Back then it was truly a “young men’s” association. Today, it has grown to an all-encompassing organization that serves both genders, all ages and all socioeconomic classes. What has stayed the same, though, is the social interaction.

“This job is my connection with people. It’s my connection with the young and the old. It inspires me and gives me energy. I’m not here for the money. I need this. It’s an important part of a great life in retirement.” – Mr. Lou Brandau

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Last year, Barry Bowling was searching for a way to make a real impact in his community.

"I told my wife there is something God wants us to do. I just didn’t know what it was," says Barry. “She said to pray about it.”

Barry got his answer as listened to a radio report on the way to the beach. Six teenagers drowned in Louisiana’s Red River trying to save a friend who slipped into deeper water. None of the teenagers or adults watching from the riverbank could swim. The tragedy highlighted a startling statistic. Some 70 percent of African-American youth can’t swim, and drowning rates for young blacks are far higher than for whites.

To Barry, swimming is a rudimentary skill he can’t even remember learning, like walking or riding a bike. He taught his children to respect and feel comfortable around the water at a young age. Hearing the report about the Louisiana drownings led Barry to what he calls his epiphany.

"The light bulb went off," says Barry. "You need to create a program that teaches parents, children, people of any age, how to swim. We have to provide that outlet for folks who don't have the opportunity or funds to pay for swim lessons. I was so excited going down the road. The first thing that popped in my head was the YMCA."

Barry has been a member of the Alexander Family Y in downtown Raleigh for nearly 20 years. He participated in fund-raising efforts, but says he wasn’t a heavily involved volunteer. That changed when Barry pulled to the side of the road and called Brad Davis, YMCA of the Triangle Vice President of Development.

Getting started
“I can’t give enough credit to Brad for turning the idea around and giving it direction. Jon Mills (the Alexander YMCA Branch Director) called me within days and we went to lunch,” says Barry. “I told him I’ll find the money somewhere. Let’s get going.”

Within weeks, the Alexander Y staff developed a business plan and solicited staff members who were experts in aquatics and outreach efforts. Barry made a few tweaks and solicited donors who have a real commitment to the community. Joe Davis (Davis Wealth Management) Ven and Lisa Poole (C3 Foundation) and Karl Blackley (Preston Development Company) now sit on the steering committee. Barry describes the whole process as “lightning quick.”

Swim for Life class June 13

In March, the first free Swim for Life session was held at the YMCA’s pool on Oberlin Road. Barry, his wife and two children were there. Barry got in the pool on the fourth day.

“I helped six adult women who were between 30 and 60 years old. At the end of the lesson, they were able to swim the length of the pool unassisted,” exclaims Barry. “One of the instructors told me that at the beginning of the session, they were terrified of the water.”

This week, more than 65 children and adults are participating in the second Swim for Life sessions operated by the Alexander Family YMCA. Staff and community volunteers say they’re learning as much as participants.

"It was moving to see folks who were afraid of the water get in and have fun." says Jon Mills, Alexander Y Branch Director. "I worked with six teens and children who started the session hanging on the side of the pool and ended up swimming halfway across the pool later in the day!"

And don’t think Barry is done dreaming about the possibilities.

“At the end of three years, I’d like to see this swim program folded into the annual We Build People program through the Alexander Family Y,” says Barry. “There are other people who have the same goal, but just don’t know where to start. Let’s make it easy for other organizations. Hold this up as a model to the YMCA of the Triangle, any Y and any other organization. Here’s a program that works, that’s tested and implemented.”