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February 18, 1995

Someday, when you're feeling low and worn down by life's little tribulations, take a trip to the Noble County Family YMCA on south Seventh street. Mingle with the folks you find there and see if that doesn't brighten your outlook pretty fast. Some of the most courageous people I know are among the regular patrons of that facility, but perhaps you don't hear a lot about their tenacity and will power. Especially, you won't hear it from them.

Stroke victims, arthritis sufferers and others with varying degrees of disability -- including those with newly achieved senior citizen status -- battle their adversaries at the Y each day in the weight room, gymnasium, swimming pool and/or spa, sweating and straining, hoping their bodies respond to carefully planned rehabilitative efforts. They, of course, are in addition to the Perfect Physical Specimens who also use the Y to stay that way. The impeccable pecs, abs and buns on those folks are to be admired, but they are not necessarily for everyone.

I don't mean to imply that a majority of the Y patrons are searching for the fountain of youth. But many of the town's physically disadvantaged do work out there each day to recover losses sustained in disabling illnesses. Others are doing their best to prevent the onset of such crippling ailments by flexing their muscles in disciplined workouts. Still others are hoping to recover their former state of fitness.

Whatever motivates or drives them, you have to admire them. I have come to know some of these people through my own more or less regular visits to the Y for walking and stretching exercises in the gym, and I am amazed at their determination, not to mention their skill levels. Each one is there for his or her own individual reason, and some are waging intensive warfare to prevent their limitations from making further inroads.

Knowing the pain some of them must be enduring as they walk, jog, swim, pump iron, sweat, pedal bikes or do aerobics especially designed for their particular needs, smiling all the while, you just have to be impressed. Personally, the closest I have come to macho jockdom is a chronic case of athlete's foot. But I try to walk about 15-20 laps in the gym each day (15 laps = 1 mile), and when I start congratulating myself for that I look up and see some of those sweet ladies and grimly determined men, some of them stroke victims, doing so much more, it makes me cringe. I don't know if many of us could match their perseverance.

At other times of the day or night, you also will find younger generations having fun at the Y in programs created just for them. You have seen or heard about the wide-ranging scope of activities provided for every member of the family by this wonderful place.

We are living in an age of national fitness and health awareness, perhaps as never before. Many of us have to struggle diligently to shed the old lethargy, the product of our earlier indifference or lack of consciousness about our well being. But many others now find themselves the unwilling victims of some affliction which they did not ask for, and so they are fighting back to recover at least a few of their physical losses. The YMCA gives us the tools and a blueprint to help us find the way to those goals, plus the added bonus of providing young people with a wholesome area of Christian family values where they can develop both physically and spiritually.

Isn't it great that we here in Noble county have a facility like the Perry YMCA, along with its dedicated staff of helping professionals and volunteers, to advise and assist us as necessary? Where else would you find that?