YMCA Branch Name

For Youth Development
For Healthy Living
For Social Development

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.


Kids playing flag footballKEARNEY—A game of flag football made parents misty eyed Saturday when an entire team of second- and third-grade boys gave Toby McDonald, a boy with Down syndrome, the chance to score a touchdown.

The idea came from their coaches, Casey Fosher and Brandon Grauerholz.

“We wanted Toby to be able to snap the ball and be a part of a few plays. So I talked with the refs and the other team to let them know what we wanted to do for Toby,” Fosher said. His son Kashtyn also is on the team. Fosher said when he first got the roster of the boys on his team, he contacted all the parents and learned Toby is a non-verbal 10-year-old with Down syndrome.

He said Toby’s parents, Suzanne and Toby McDonald of Kearney, just wanted their son to have a chance to hang out with the boys.

Suzanne said Saturday was a day she will never forget.


Lt. Gov. Foley leads prevention program at YMCA


KEARNEY — “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands” — and more than 100 children at the YMCA of Kearney chimed in Monday morning with Lt. Gov. Mike Foley and Sue Klein, the YMCA’s Child Care Center director.

“It’s nice to be in Kearney and be outside of Lincoln. The governor and I feel it’s important to interact with the public all over the state of Nebraska, including with little children. It’s important to teach children curriculum like the Second Step program so they know how to communicate and how to interact,” Foley said.

The children were warming up to review what they’ve been learning in the Second Step program, which was spearheaded by Mark Foradori, the United Against Violence Coalition coordinator.

“We began the program after consistently seeing about 20 percent of high school students stating in surveys they were bullied over the last few years. We knew we needed to do something,” Foradori said.

“We started Second Step last August. We can see the difference in the children. It helps them work on social and emotional concepts,” Klein said.


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.