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Letter: My ‘Y’ experience

When I close my eyes, sit back, and reflect back almost 70 years, the memories of the YMCA of Greenfield are strong and powerful.

In my younger days, I remember swimming, basketball, pingpong, Camp Apex, the “Y” dances and many more activities. My son grew up with judo, skiing, basketball and Camp Apex among his favorites. I remember “Mr. YMCA,” Jim Allen. He was not only a wonderful man, dedicated to the YMCA, but helped each of us become a better person.

The one person I haven’t mentioned yet is my wife. In 2005, she was suddenly stricken with an auto-immune system disease called Guillain Barre. It occurs in 1 of 200,000 people and there is no known reason or treatment. Thanks to Dr. Joe Viadaro, she was rushed by helicopter to Mass. General Hospital in Boston, where she spent the next two weeks in intensive care and the next two weeks in a rehab center in Ludow. During this period, she was paralyzed from the neck up, lost her sight ... Every day at Mass. General, my son John and daughter-in-law Norma sat by her side wondering what was going to happen. The one constant was a stream of doctors who mentioned that her great physical condition was the one thing that was helping her cope with all of this.

Two months later, she regained her sight although it was with double vision, difficult to watch TV, movies, or driving a car without a eye patch.

Four months later, she was back working out at the “Y,” driving her car, playing golf and talking up a storm. By July, she had a hole-in-one, (her sixth) and was back to a normal life.

My wife’s name is Phyllis and many of you have known her as a fitness instructor at the YMCA for the last 30 years. We honestly believe all the years of working out helped to save her life.

Sit back and reflect about your family. Make that call and join the “Y.” You’ll never regret it. If you are already a member or for some reason cannot join at this time, please consider a contribution to the YMCA’s Strong Kids and Family Campaign. Your donation will greatly help support an organization that is vital to the health of our community.



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