MAKING THE FIRST STEP COUNT
Written by Wellness Director Jacque Perez
I hear Y Stories almost every day, but this one specifically really had a strong impact on me. In turn, I’ve shared this tale – Lucy’s story – with many others but now, I’m want to tell the entire Y Community!
I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Lucy during LIVESTRONG at the YMCA. LIVESTRONG is a small-group wellness program for adult cancer survivors. During a group’s first meeting, we spend the whole time going around the table as all participants share what brought them to the program and the Y. With the shared experience of battling cancer, most truly open up, including Lucy. Her story was so emotional that it had all of us crying or close to tears.
She started by mentioning how badly she wanted to be someone who was active and live a healthy lifestyle. While working in South Sioux City, she would drive by the Y every day on her way to and from work. Lucy would think every day how nice it would be to be a member and use the facility. But fear and intimidation were her worst enemy.
One day she pulled into the Y’s parking lot and just sat there in her car. She couldn’t find the courage to walk in the front door, but that day Lucy had enough courage to at least come and park. She sat there for a while watching people come and go. She got very emotional watching all the different people who had the courage to walk through the doors: young and old, fit and not so fit, able walkers and those with canes, multiple backgrounds, multiple ethnicities.
But she couldn’t find the will to get herself to walk in. So Lucy lived with this dilemma, never finding that something to encourage her to take the first step through the front door.
Months passed. She then saw a flyer for a program at the YMCA for cancer survivors. She didn’t know what to expect or what would come of it. But Lucy [pictured to the right in white] mustered up the nerve to call in and inquire about LIVESTRONG. I set up a time to meet with her here at the Y and we just talked as I gave her a tour of the facility. That was it, and that was all she needed.
With just a little bit of guidance, someone to talk to and someone to make her feel like she belonged and was capable; Lucy’s intimidation disappeared. She found that the Y was truly welcoming community filled with a variety of people all working to better themselves in one way or another. Later she decided she wanted to try the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program and as of July, Lucy completed our 12 week program!
One thing I will always remember Lucy saying is that the first time she came to the Y, she had to stop halfway through the parking lot to catch her breath and rest. Then, about halfway through the program, she came in with a big grin on her face saying that she walked all the way in without needing to stop to rest. Not only was she now mentally able to overcome her fear and walk through the front doors, but now she could physically breeze right into the Y as well!
It’s those little things that make what I do worth it. Those little gains that make people’s lives just a little bit better!