News & Events
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Upcoming Events at the YMCA
- Sunday, November 24th: 39th Annual Fischang Cicchetti Road Race more information HERE
Racing for Chase
Family, Waterbury Y will honor Sandy Hook victim
In this 2012 file photo provided by the Kowalski family, Chase Kowalski bikes during the 2012 Kids Who Tri Succeed Triathlon in Mansfield, Conn.
Chase Kowalski loved to run, bike and swim. Most of all he loved to race.
The summer before he was killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary School with 25 other students and staff, the 7 year old competed in his first triathlon.
Wearing swim shoes and riding his red "Lightning McQueen" bicycle inspired by the speedy character from the movie "Cars," Chase competed in a 20-yard swim, a half-mile ride and a third-of-a-mile run. He finished first in his age group.
Now Chase's family has started a foundation in his memory that will help other children experience the thrill of the race.
"He swam and he biked and he ran every day, that was the essence of who he was," his mother Rebecca said. "How could we not honor him in this way?"
The Chase Kowalski Memorial Fund is teaming with the Greater Waterbury YMCA to support that organization's existing triathlon program for kids, and work to spread the program across the country.
Chase ran competitively for the first time when he was just 2½ years old, earning ribbons and Popsicles for his races. He ran three that day, begging his mother to let him do longer distances after each race. Rebecca Kowalski cried as she described how a 5-year-old friend — wearing the race number 26 — went back to hold hands with Chase and help him cross the finish line after his first 400-yard race.
Chase got his first bike when he was 4, and taught himself to swim in his backyard pool by watching Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte on television at the Olympics.
At 6 years old, Chase asked if he could do one of those races where he could combine all three events.
"Stephen and I busted out laughing," Rebecca Kowalski said, referring to her husband. "We said, `Dude that's called a triathlon, maybe when you're 16."'
After much cajoling from her son, Kowalski went on line to research whether anyone offered triathlons for kids. She found one scheduled for a week later in Mansfield, about 90 minutes away.
The YMCA project, now called the Race4Chase Kid's Triathlon Program, will train children for six weeks during the summer in the fundamentals of swimming, racing and bicycling, culminating with a short-course triathlon, where the kids will earn medals.
"Self-esteem is a big part of this," said Jim O'Rourke, the executive director of the Greater Waterbury YMCA. "When you see a kid who could not even swim six weeks before complete this event, and see that look on their face. It lets them know that they can achieve."
The foundation is working with the YMCA to create protocols and a package that will allow other organizations across the country to set up similar Race4Chase triathlons, Rebecca Kowalski said. Two other Connecticut YMCAs are in talks to have races as early as next summer. A Race4Chase triathlon is being planned for Newtown-area kids next July in Monroe, where Sandy Hook kids are currently attending school.
A lot of the funding is coming from athletes. The Kowalskis' fireplace is covered with medals that have been sent to them, some anonymously, by marathoners, triathletes, and others who have heard Chase's story.
Many raise money by collecting pledges for the miles they complete, logging them on the foundation website. The goal is to get to 1 million miles. Runners have tallied a little over 5,000 miles so far.
One of Stephen's childhood friends, Kevin Bresnahan of Colchester, Conn., recently completed 1,000 miles for Race4Chase, beginning the last leg of his endeavor at the high school where Chase ran his first races. There he left one of two batons he created with Chase's name on them.
"I left a note inside about paying it forward, taking the baton and doing something athletic with it, and passing it on," he said.
An 11-year-old girl, Alexis Garrity, took the baton to Florida, where she completed her first 5K in October. She had never run a mile before joining the group that helped Bresnahan finish his run.
"It was way harder than I thought it would be," she said. "I had to keep going I had to finish and not let anybody down especially Chase's family."
She has passed the baton to a family friend, who had lost a son at a young age. That woman plans to run a race on Dec. 14 in St. Augustine, Fla., and then pass the baton.
Rebecca Kowalski said that is the kind of thing she and her husband, Stephen, had hoped for when she started Race4Chase.
"It keeps his spirit alive," she said. "It's hard, but it makes me feel good that he inspires people to just go and do things, and inspires families to do things together."
former YMCA member and kingz aau team player anthony ireland up for Wcc player of the year
read full story here
ymca berkeley warner community center receives bank of america grant
June 2013- Bank of America’s Charitable Foundation has provided THE WATERBURY YOUNG MENS CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION with a $2,500 grant for the YMCA at Berkeley Heights Youth & Teen Center.
We would like to thank Bank of America for supporting The YMCA Berkely Warner Community Center. As we look to provide our community with important educational and workforce development initiatives, Bank of America’s investment in our organization will enable us to continue performing our vital work.
Greater Waterbury YMCA Receives CHEFA Grant To Improve Pool
[Waterbury, CT] – The Greater Waterbury YMCA was awarded a $65,000 grant from the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA) as part of its Client Grant Program.
The Greater Waterbury YMCA will use the grant money to help underwrite some of the cost of renovating the YMCA’s circa 1924 20-yd warm water therapeutic and instructional pool infilling the pool to a consistent depth to increase the programming capacity of the pool. The aged filtration and drainage systems will also be upgraded as a result of these renovations.
Jim O’Rourke, Executive Director of the Greater Waterbury YMCA said “We are extremely grateful to CHEFA for signing on to support this project that will enable the YMCA to teach more children to swim providing life-saving skills for inner-city children. This renovation will also increase the capacity of our active older adult and therapeutic programs through improved accessibility.”
CHEFA recently announced $1 million in grants to 15 of its nonprofit client agencies throughout the state. CHEFA is a quasi-public agency created by the State Legislature to help Connecticut healthcare and educational institutions, and other not-for-profit entities obtain tax exempt financing. CHEFA is self-sustaining and receives no taxpayer funds. For more information about CHEFA, visit www.chefa.com.
ymca and waterbury americorps clean berkely warner center
The Waterbury YMCA recently acquired the Berkely Warner Community Recreation Center from the City of Waterbury with the purpose of bringing back partial operation of the center for the community's youth. The center, which has not been operating for some time, needed some cleaning and restoration.
"Waterbury AmeriCorps teamed up today with the Waterbury YMCA to clean up the Berkeley Warner Community Center, located at the Berkeley Heights Housing Project.
According to John Corcoran, coordinator of the AmeriCorps program, approximately 35 members will help clean and paint the interior of the building beginning Saturday and continuing into next week. The cleanup coincides with national AmeriCorps Week, which is March 9-17. The goal is to have the Center ready for its open house on March 27. Once the Center is open, AmeriCorps members will volunteer afterschool homework help and mentoring.
“I saw in the paper that the building was being revamped but needed help,” said Corcoran. “This type of work fits perfectly into our mission.”
What is yrc?
YMCA Racing Collaborative
At the Greater Waterbury YMCA, we realized that there are SO MANY great races in our community that it can be hard to keep track all of them and figure out which ones you should do. YRC's mission is to support races in our community - especially ones with great causes. Some of the races are ones we're organizing ourselves, some are brand new, and some have been brought to you for years by great community organizations we're now collaborating and partnering with - but ALL of them are for a good cause. Every month, we're going to send out a newsletter which is going to include WHEN and WHERE you need to be to be a part of some of the best community races, tips about WHAT you need to do to get there, and an inspirational story from one of the causes we're highlighting - WHY doing that race will make a difference in our community, and in the world.
Upcoming Community Collaborations:
Sunday, May 5 - Children's Community School 5K, downtown Waterbury. More details to come! Mark your calendar