Kennett Y fund-raising off to good start

While the public period of
fund-raising for the Kennett YMCA’s expansion project is just underway, it’s
off to a good start. The quiet phase of the $3.4 million project has already
generated $2 million, said Denise Day, the president and CEO of the YMCA
Brandywine Valley, a group of six YMCAs.

She believes the remaining $1.4
million can be raised within the next six months and that work can begin by the
end of August. The work will take about 10 months once underway.

Day said the expansion is
needed because the Y is simply too small for its membership.

“This facility has been
bursting at the seams for a number of years. We’re probably eight years behind
of when we should have expanded, but we’re just thrilled to be able to do it
now. When we initially built this building, it was built for about 5,000
members and we’ve had about 12,000 members now for a long, long time.”

She said the Kennett Y has
become “the real hub” of the community and that there’s more the Y can do.

The expansion project will not
only add a three-lane swimming pool for warm water aquatics and family
swimming, but also add a family recreation facility, and increase the size of
the cardio area and add space for those who aren’t yet in shape.

“Every user group benefits from
the design of what we’re going to do. On one end will be the equivalent of half
a gym and a very large aerobic room and have a health seeker area. That’s
really a center for fitness that’s designed for people who are new or returning
to exercise.”

Day added that there would be
more room for teens and youth with the extra half gym. She said that fitness
classes and basketball won’t have to compete for gym space.

“We’re also going to have a
small arts and humanities room for the kids, as well. We’re looking to have
pottery, art classes, those types of things that are nonphysical, drama, dance,
performance and music. We’re really finding that not all kids like the sports.
There’s a real need to let kids explore their creative side.”

Day was interviewed Feb. 12,
the day of the expansion kickoff party, the start of the public phase of the
fund-raising.

Visitors to the expansion party
saw a short video explaining the reasons why Y officials want to expand the
facilities and heard former Philadelphia Eagle and cancer survivor Kevin
Reilly.

Reilly lost his left arm,
shoulder and five ribs to cancer. His speech was mostly inspirational, but also
included his YMCA experience in Wilmington that led him to working out to put
on enough weight that allowed him to play football.

The weight-training regimen
held him in good stead when he got to the pros. He was drafted by the Miami
Dolphins the year after that team’s undefeated season and he felt self
conscious being in the same training camp as people he had only read about and
seen play on TV. But his confidence returned to him in the weight room when
only he and running back Mercury Morris were able to press 350 pounds.

During his talk — that included
a strong motivational theme — he untied and retied his tie with his one good
hand.

The Kennett Area YMCA at 101
Race Street was built in 1998. It’s part of a group of Y’s that share
membership. Other Y’s in the group are The Brandywine Y, Jennersville, West
Chester, Octorara Program Center and the Oscar Lake Youth Program Center.

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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