YMCA Branch Name

For Youth Development
For Healthy Living
For Social Development

Exercise Facility Design

KEARNEY — A gym and swim. An indoor neighborhood. The Kearney Family YMCA will be even more after its $6.6 million Healthier Tomorrows capital campaign funds an ambitious 20,000-square-foot addition.

The campaign, ongoing quietly for the past year and set to begin publicly in early 2019, will finance a spacious ground-floor Wellness Center with a wealth of fitness equipment and large windows. A new main entrance, a Learning Garden and a Cafe Corner gathering area will be created. On the second floor, the current fitness center will be replaced with classrooms and child care space for grades 4-6.

Plans were drawn by Donor by Design, a Minneapolis company that works with YMCAs across the country. The Y expects to break ground in 2019 and complete the expansion in 2020. The Y will remain open while the work is progressing.

“This project will help us tell our story,” Executive Director Denny Placzek said.


Delay the Disease ProgramKEARNEY — Neil Jochen has sold advertising for small businesses. He has served as the executive director at YMCAs in Ohio and Michigan. But for the past 15 years, he’s had to funnel his energy into dealing with Parkinson’s disease.

In recent weeks, the 80-year-old Jochen has more energy, thanks to Delay the Disease, a new fitness program at the Kearney Family YMCA aimed at delaying and easing physical disabilities caused by Parkinson’s disease. Those disabilities include tremors, stiffness, slowness, behavioral disorders, sleep problems and functional decline. Since the pilot program began three weeks ago, “I’ve seen improvement,” his wife Beth said.

 “We want to help change lives,” Dillon Nelson, the Y’s community engagement manager, said. “We want anyone to come who has any kind of movement challenges.”

 Delay the Disease began as a pilot program in July. Nelson expected five people to show up for that trial run, but 18 came and gave it enthusiastic approval. It officially kicks off Aug. 21. Classes will be from 11 a.m. to noon Tuesday and Thursday. The cost is $5 per class.


Katie FieldsKEARNEY — For Katie Fields, a picture is worth not just 1,000 words, but 100 pounds and more. She has lost 80 pounds in the past year, and she’s not finished. Her husband Jim is taking pictures of her as she diets to keep her motivated.

“The pictures were my idea,” she said. “I wanted to keep track of my progress. They come in handy when I’m having a down day. It reminds me of how far I have come.”

Fields had sparred with diets all her life, but the diets kept winning. She’d plunge into one and lose a few pounds, but the weight crept back on. No matter what she did or what she ate, she was stuck at 450 pounds.

But when her doctor found some pre-cancer cells in her body a year ago, alarms went off. “I wanted things to change,” she said. This time, she was determined to win.


The Y is committed to providing programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all. We make every effort to ensure that no one is turned away due to inability to pay. Click to read more about our financial assistance.