SIDNEY — Tom Clark is more than a husband, father, grandfather, educator and coach. He is a man who believes in everything the YMCA stands for.
Clark was the testimonial speaker during Thursday’s kickoff for the annual Community Partner Campaign. He shared how the Sidney-Shelby County YMCAs Delay the Disease program helped give him back his life. Clark was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in the earl 2000’s.
At first he denied the symptoms he was experiencing.
“I had a folder called ‘parking lot’ because I didn’t want to say the name,” said Clark.
He credits his doctor for listening to him when he was first diagnosed; a friend who also has Parkinson’s Disease who told him to own up to the disease and start planning to beat him at pickle ball; and the YMCA, which gave him back his life through the Delay the Disease program which was started in 2017.
“Your donations make a difference,” said Clark. “You may be helping a future weaseling state champion or a Division 1 basketball player.”
Clark said he believes in all the programs that the YMCA has to offer the community.
The goal for this year’s campaign is $115,000. Dan McMahon and Chris North are serving as co-chairs.
McMahon thanked everyone for taking time out of their day to attending the kickoff which was held virtually via Zoom.
“The last year has been hard,” said McHahon, who added people are still adjusting to our new way of life in a pandemic.
He said he and his wife, Cara, are fortunate in being able to afford a membership at the YMVA for their family.
“But not all the community is as fortunate,” he said. “I’ve been on the YMCA’s board for two years.The first year I spent watching and learning.”
With all the uncertainties because of the pandemic, McMahon knew he wanted to step up and take a bigger role at the YMCA and help the community grow.
North said he shared many of McMahon’s feelings about the YMCA. He likes that it’s a safe and healthy place for he and his family to go to.
“When I was a youngster, my mom raised five kids on her own,” said North. the only way they could afford to join the YMCA was through the financial assistance the Y offers.
“The YMCA made me what I am today,” said North.
David O’Leary, who was recently named the YMCA’s CEO, said the organization is committed to youth development and living a healthy lifestyle.The Y’s daycare program is making a difference in the lives of hundreds of children.
“We have 180 children in the daycare program daily,” said O’Leary. “Parents rely on us to care for their children, to keep them safe and to educate them. Seventy percent of the families rely on the financial aide we provide.”
He said the annual campaign allows the YMCA to “be what we’re supposed to be.” He said the YMCA provides $250,000 in financial assistance to families annually.
To learn more about the Y’s Annual Community Partners Program, visit https://sidney-ymca.org/give or call 937-492-9134.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.