Friendship and Teamwork

West Essex YMCA - Richard StoryWest Essex Y Member Richard Mohan was diagnosed at the age of 16 with a benign brain tumor. The good news was that it was benign, but the bad news was that operating on the tumor was very challenging. Its' location in the area of the cervical spine made surgeries very risky and dangerous. Numerous surgeries kept Richard alive, but left him with impaired vision and hearing, and with the loss of the full-ability to use his arms and his legs.  By the age of 28, Richard was no longer able to do simple everyday activities that we all take for granted.  This journey has been a challenge not only for Richard, but for his entire family.

Last May of 2013, Richard’s mother Sattie contacted the West Essex Y, to discuss if there were any exercise programs that might be suitable for someone like Richard.  As a young man he loved going to the gym. Her hope was that exercising would not only renew some of his physical strength, but might also boost his spirits. 

West Essex sought out the right “partners” to work with Richard, both  in the pool and in the gym.  Hence his friendships began with his trainers Kevin Ross and Steven McMurray.  Steven began a weighted workout program in the gym, along with regular cardio exercise on a recumbent bike, which only required the movement of Richard’s arms.  Kevin began working with Richard in the pool, where it was easier for Richard to move freely due to the buoyancy of the water.  It wasn’t long before Richard was seeing marked improvement in his strength.  He was able to lift himself in and out of his wheelchair with his arms, which was a major improvement.  His sense of humor also returned, and he would crack jokes and raise eyebrows regularly with his funny remarks.

What is even more amazing is the kinship that developed between Richard’s family and the West Essex Y staff. The employees look forward to seeing Richard each week, and the Y was becoming his second home.  It had become a place where he has friends – a place where he can be that 28 year-old young, funny, strong guy. In addition, an amazing sense of teamwork has developed amongst the Y staff.  They work together in new and unique ways to ensure that Richard has a quality experience every time his wheelchair rolls through the front doors of the Y. We all continue to be inspired by the resilience of Richard’s spirit.  It can be said that the YMCA had a profound impact on Richard’s life, but there is no doubt that he has touched ours.

Every person has the chance to flourish at the Y, and you can help.  Our Annual Support Campaign provides the opportunity for scholarships, for families who are in the midst of economic crisis.

The YMCA make strengthening our communities our cause. We help individuals and families everyday become stronger, more connected and secure. Help us make an impact in your community. Give to the Y.