It’s 5:30 in the morning and while most people find themselves rolling out of bed to start the coffee pot, you can find Ben Meyer at the YMCA of the Northwoods. “Exercise to me is more than just a pursuit of the look and feel of having a healthy body. It is a mental stimulant for me. I find it’s hard to stay sharp mentally without morning exercise,” says Ben.
Ben moved to the Northwoods just over three years ago and joining the YMCA was one of the first things he did upon moving to the community. He was looking for a place to meet his physical fitness goals and also a welcoming spot in the community to help him get adjusted to his new move and community.
He says the Y was able to really do both.
Ben didn’t know just how much he would rely on the community mindset found at the YMCA of the Northwoods, until October of last year, when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and immediately scheduled for surgery. A scary diagnosis for anyone, but for an active, young man an even harder pill to swallow, but Ben’s personality doesn’t let him stay still for long. “Recovery was difficult; at times very simply body movements were painful. I also wasn’t used to the feeling of not being able to exercise for a long period of time,” he says.
Through connections and relationships built at the Y he learned about the Livestrong program. Livestrong is a 12-week program designed to help adult cancer survivors in their recovery. They learn to rebuild strength and stamina following treatment. This program is offered at the YMCA of the Northwoods completely free to any and all adult cancer survivors in our area thanks to the Annual Support Campaign. For Ben, he says the program was a good piece of the puzzle during his recovery, because perhaps more than anything it helped him realize he was and did not have to go through any of this alone. The benefit of it being a free program was not lost on Ben either, “It is a real privilege to have a program for cancer survivors like me at a place like the Y and to have it supported by the generous donors to the Y’s mission.”
For Ben, the YMCA of the Northwoods is an important part of his daily life, both before and after his diagnosis and recovery. He says sharing his story is just one way he can help the rest of the community understand the Y’s mission and its true role in the community. Through the Annual Support Campaign, programs like LiveStrong are possible, but the campaign also allows the Y to let everyone participate in all programs, regardless of their ability to pay.
Scholarship programs exist to help families cover membership costs, or to help send kids to summer camps and swim lessons. For Ben, he says the Y’s mission aligns with the ideals of the Northwoods community and all the reasons he enjoys living here, “People who live in the Northwoods take pride in what makes this area special. It’s more than our natural beauty. It’s the strong and supportive bonds of our Northwoods communities. Involvement with the Y takes many forms, physical, mental, emotional, financial, and more, but they all have a common theme. What they Y does helps improve our overall community. That’s worth our involvement.”
The Annual Support Campaign at the YMCA of the Northwoods is underway now. If you are interested in learning more about how you can get involved, donate, or learn more about the programs at the YMCA, give them a call at 715-362-9622.