At the Y, we are not only focused on helping our members find their path to a healthy lifestyle, we look to strengthen their connections to the greater Y community. These principles are exemplified by Morris Community YMCA member Mike Lennon.
Mike, a former educator and avid runner, will be raising money for the YMCA’s Mission Strong Fund by competing in the Christmas in July Half-Marathon and 5K in Elk Grove on July 9. Mike said he gained inspiration from the Y’s Send a Kid to Camp Campaign, with his efforts fusing all aspects of the Y’s mission to support healthy living, youth development, and social responsibility.
“I taught elementary school P.E. in California and helping kids grow, overcoming any obstacle, has always been a passion of mine,” he said. “One of the things I really like about the Y’s approach to serving the community is that nobody is turned away due to the inability to pay, and I want to help any way I can.”
Mike, 75, frequented the downtown Joliet Y in his youth and moved back to Illinois from California eight years ago. He says that he feels a strong connection to the Y because it provides so much more than simply a place to work out, it builds character and strengthens families in our community.
“I’ve had the chance to go to other gyms and it’s just not the same as the culture here. The Y is very community centered. It’s a really positive environment, and it encourages you to grow and develop. You feel that when you’re here,” he said.
Mike also recounted the support the Y was able to provide him after battling an array of health problems last year, including a bout with COVID, a compression fracture in his back, and blood clots.
“I was in and out of the hospital, couldn’t work out, and was down to 150 pounds at one point. I felt like I was melting,” he said. “I came back to the Y and did six sessions of personal training. I realized I couldn’t let my routine slip. My goal is to live life strong and now I feel so much better.”
Mike plans to do most of his training for the upcoming half-marathon at the Y and, though two knee replacements and a new right hip have shifted his focus toward walking his races, raising awareness for a good cause has motivated him to ramp up his workout regiment.
“The Y is really proactive with programs and meeting the needs of families, individuals and the community as a whole, but that also means we have to fund the financial assistance program. Hopefully we can make a big impact,” he said.
On behalf of the Y, we wish Mike the best of luck in his upcoming race and look forward to sharing updates of his training throughout the coming weeks on our social media pages.
And, you can pledge your support for Mike’s fundraiser today! Your gift, which will benefit kids at the Y, can be made through Facebook or by donating to the Y online. When making your donation on our giving portal, use the following steps:
1. Select ‘Dedicate this donation’
2. Select ‘In Honor of’ and type ‘Mike’s Run for Y Kids’
To learn more about the YMCA Mission Strong Fund, click here. We thank you for your support as we look to support bright futures!