SIDNEY — The Sidney-Shelby County YMCA was humming with activity Saturday, April 23, 2018, as hundreds of local residents gathered to help celebrate the organization’s 50th anniversary.
In addition to the anniversary celebration, the YMCA was host to Healthy Kids Day and The Shelby County Health and Awareness Fair. The event was sponsored by Wilson Health of Sidney, Ohio Living Dorothy Love, and the Senior Center of Shelby County. The target goal of the event was to provide information and education about safety, emergency services, and ways of achieving and maintaining a desirable level of good health.
Attendees were greeted by a number of costume characters and a variety of safety and emergency vehicles at the front of the building. The Sidney Fire Department had a fire truck on display and children were encouraged to “touch-the-truck” and see what it’s like to sit in the driver’s seat. There were Sidney Police and Shelby county Sherriff’s Dept. cruisers on display as well as the Mobile Education Unit of the Donate Life Ohio which promoted organ donor awareness. Also present was a military Hummer vehicle and soldiers from the Army National Guard from Piqua, Ohio, and members of the Shelby-Miami County SWAT Team.
At 10:30 a.m., the Y’s 50th Birthday Party featuring cake and ice cream was held in the youth center. The party featured several speakers and an overview of the YMCA’s history by local historian Rich Wallace who was dressed in period attire sporting a cane and top-hat.
The Health and Awareness Fair was held in the west gym with a multitude of local health-associated businesses advertising their services. There was a lipid profile and glucose screening available for only $10.00 and a station set up for checking blood pressure.
The occasion was designed for people of all ages but by far the most noticeable characteristic of the event was the number of children scampering about visiting displays and participating in all the games and activities associated with Healthy Kids Day. The event was held in conference rooms, the lobby and youth center. There were lots of healthy snacks and drinks available and prizes for the kids. Face-painting was a popular activity as noted by the number of children with painted faces. Several local businesses were on hand passing out a variety of free gifts and providing information about their services.
David O’Leary, Sidney YMCA operations director, was extremely pleased with the turnout and expressed his gratitude for the level of community spirit found in Sidney and in Shelby County.
“Our goal here at the YMCA is to strengthen families any way we can; we put Christian principals into practice in hopes of improving the lives of the people living in Sidney and the surrounding area. Events like this one increase public awareness about the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle and all the opportunities associated with our organization, local health services, and municipal agencies. It also helps form a bond of community spirit; no one is turned away here and we work really hard holding fundraisers for membership, child care, and a lot of other great programs,” O’Leary said.
O’Leary is no stranger to the Y.
“While growing up the YMCA was always a major part of my life. Since I was about 10 years old I came here to play basketball, racquetball, and spent a lot of time swimming. In 2005 I was appointed to the position of wellness director and held that position until moving into the Operation Director’s spot three and a half years ago,” he said.
O’Leary stressed the importance of promoting a healthy and happy atmosphere in respect to family structure and feels it is paramount to the Y’s mission, goals, and activities. O’Leary and his wife Emily have six children and the whole family is active in the YMCA.
“We all like to come here, the Y provides an environment where everyone can feel at home, we’re like one big family here and again our goal is to strengthen that family and Christian family values,” he said.
Ed Thomas, YMCA CEO, was on hand greeting those in attendance. Ed filled the position in 2005 and also shares a great deal of enthusiasm about the Y’s commitment to the local community and its rich heritage and the people who made it what it is.
“When I came here I had some big shoes to fill; former CEO Dennis Ruble had an outstanding career here and worked very hard to build the organization. He lived the principals, mission, and vision of the Y and it showed,” said Thomas. “My goal has been to honor that level of commitment and to do whatever it takes to overcome the challenges that come with growth and progress. I am fortunate to have a great number of wonderful people to work with, without that support this organization would never have reached the level of excellence it enjoys.
“Our staff works very hard and I commend their efforts; coupled with support and funding from local residents, business, and industry we have a strong presence here in Sidney and Shelby County and it is my pleasure and privilege to be a part of it,” Thomas Said.
O’Leary said those who missed out on all the fun Saturday, will have another chance to visit the Y on July 21st for a full day of family fun.
“We will be holding our annual Y-FEST, sponsored primarily by Wilson Health. Wilson has been there for us time after time and we really appreciate their commitment to family and community. This will be an all-day event running from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.,” said O’Leary.
There will be a 4-mile road race (running) a corporate wellness challenge, and host of other activities for the whole family.” O’Leary promises a fun-filled day and suggests residents and local businesses start making plans now for this big event.
“We will have a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, volley ball competition, dodgeball and of course our four-miler. There will also be lots of fun games and activities for the kids and enough entertainment to keep everyone occupied all day. We’re even having a cardboard-duct tape boat race in the pool, which will be a big treat in itself,” O’Leary said.
Anyone having questions about the upcoming Y-FEST can stop by the YMCA at 300 E. Parkwood St., Sidney, OH or call the YMCA at: 937-492-9134.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.