YMCA raises flag in support of Donate Life


SIDNEY — The Sidney-Shelby County YMCA, 300 E. Parkwood St., held a flag raising to raise awareness and support organ, eye and tissue donations during Donate Life Awareness Month this April and invited local YMCA members Jim and Fran Rickey to help raise the Donate Life flag in front of the YMCA.

Since 2018, the Sidney-Shelby County has raised a Donate Life flag since Life Connection of Ohio invited the YMCA to participate in the Donate Life Flags Across Ohio program. The YMCA has raised the flag each year since, except for 2020, because organ, tissue and eye donations aligns with their focus of healthy living.

“We try to find someone in our YMCA that has a tie (to organ, tissue or eye donations) to do the flag raising,” said Pam Fultz-Masson, marketing development director. “Today we’ve asked Jim Rickey, who’s a member of our Y, and his wife Fran, and I’m not sure if Fran is going to be able to be here. Fran is on the kidney transplant list, so that’s the tie-in for who’s raising the flag today.”

According to Fultz-Masson, the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA plans to support Donate Life Awareness Month with social media posts and an event with Life Connection of Ohio at the end of April. Life Connection will have a display and information at the Shelby County Health Fair being held at the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA.

Jim and Fran were chosen by the YMCA’s Wellness Director Suann Kleinhans to raise the Donate Life Flag on Friday, March 31. Kleinhans had gotten to know the couple after Jim had fallen on the track at the YMCA and quickly learned about Fran’s status on the kidney transplant list.

Fran is on the kidney transplant list because she has been fighting kidney disease since 2011.

In 2011, Fran and Jim discovered her kidney disease after a heart attack. While being treated for the heart attack, doctors diagnosed her with stage three kidney disease.

“I was at a three, I think, when I left the hospital (in 2011). And I kept it at bay for almost eight years,” said Fran.

She is currently battling stage five kidney disease, which her doctors refer to as end stage, and started dialysis in December of 2021.

“Today we gather in celebration of all of those donors. We gather in prayer and recognition for those who are waiting for a donation. And we especially recognize today Jim and Fran Rickey. Fran who is on the waiting list for a kidney. We just want to highlight to our community that we are here in support for you, Fran, our prayers are with you and we’re so thankful that you’re part of our YMCA and that we can, together, raise awareness for this great and important cause,” said Sidney-Shelby County YMCA CEO David O’Leary.

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