YMCA kicks off campaignA local middle school student and a retired NBA veteran provided testimonials Sunday that strong kids are the basis for strong adults at a fundraiser for the Red Wing Family YMCA.
By: Eric Lear, The Republican Eagle
A local middle school student and a retired NBA veteran provided testimonials Sunday that strong kids are the basis for strong adults at a fundraiser for the Red Wing Family YMCA.
Leiah Dickerson, a sixth-grader at Twin Bluffs Middle School, was the first inspirational speaker. She read a paper she wrote describing what the YMCA meant to her and her family.
Her speech was followed by a talk from former University of Minnesota basketball player and NBA standout Trent Tucker.
Tucker, who won the NBA championship with the Chicago Bulls in 1993, said that his championship was a gold trophy and that the community’s trophy should be the development of its youth.
“By having the backing of a YMCA, it gives our kids a chance to see hope,” he said.
That’s the same hope the 11-year NBA veteran saw while involved with the YMCA growing up in Flint, Mich. He said that without the development that he received as a young man he might not have reached his full potential.
“The first day I had a difficult moment, I knew where I could go because my development was strong,” he said.
Organizers hope that fund drive, which runs through November, will raise $120,000 and help give area kids the same hope and strength Tucker received.
“When you really get down to it, you need to consider who has a place for kids, who takes time and adapts programming for kids, who listens to kids who offers kids opportunities for what they want to do and who provides guidance,” Melstad said.
One third of the Red Wing community is involved in the YMCA and a fundraising effort to aid the Strong Kids Campaign was kicked into gear on Sunday to make sure that all area children and families can be involved in the YMCA, even if those families can’t afford to become a member.
“One way or another we have been doing this for 100 years, since the Y started,” Melstad said. “The basic premise is that we have a standing policy that no one will be turned away from the YMCA because of an inability to pay for services and that creates a bit of a deficit so we, once a year, ask our members and our constituents to consider helping fill that gap.”
The YMCA also typically counts on organizations to donate to the campaign, but with the recent economic downturn, those organizations have scaled back, leaving the Y to rely more heavily on its members to help raise money.
“Every person we asked to volunteer was, without a doubt, completely unhesitant,” campaign vice chair Susan Christenson said. “We had people saying ‘We would do anything for the Y,’ so the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I think that’s just a great statement to the people in the community; people in Red Wing have a great sense of community and the Y is a big part of that community.”
Melstad agreed that the interest in the Strong Kids Campaign is remarkable and the campaign is well on its way to reaching its goal.