Kearney YMCA offers financial assistance for memberships

by Christopher Stum Saturday, January 2nd 2021

KEARNEY, Neb. — With a new year here and many New Year’s Resolutions to stay healthy in place, the Kearney YMCA is now reducing their membership prices to help those struggling financially.

“We really want to make sure that we’re encouraging people to be successful from the moment they join to be a member,” said Membership Services Manager, Dillon Nelson.

It’s a solution to the resolution.

This year the Kearney YMCA is taking their prices back to what they were two decades ago in an effort to maintain their memberships, but also help those who want to join a gym but may not be able to afford a membership due to financial reasons.

“We’re here to be an outlet for the community and our members, so we want to continue doing that even if its on a limited basis or on a structured basis that was a little different than last year,” said Ray Longoria, CEO.

During January, Nelson said all membership joining fees have been reduced to twenty dollars per person, down from their normal price of fifty dollars per person.

And while some may still have reserved feelings on going to workout in gyms, Nelson says they’re working overtime to make sure their facilities continue to be a safe place.

“It is something that we are wanting to grow our membership, but not for the fact of membership, but that we want people to have a place that they can go to get away mentally, where they can actually start reconnecting with people and feeling in a safe environment,” said Nelson.

To meet the standards of the CDC and local health departments, Nelson says employees are disinfecting equipment and highly touched surfaces regularly.

And while they have reduced the capacity of their classes, the YMCA said it doesn’t take away from the fact that they’ll do whatever they can to help make sure their members are staying healthy during a pandemic.

“We understand families have all been hit different, so we still again want to be there for our community anyway we can,” said Longoria.

If you’d like to apply for assistance for a membership, you can find more information here.

YMCA uses modified holiday event to spread cheer

by Christopher Stum Sunday, December 13th 2020

KEARNEY, Neb. — Spreading some good cheer this holiday season, Santa and his pal Elroy came out early this year to pass out some gifts at the YMCA.

The sound of Christmas Carole’s and sighting of Santa Clause are usually good indicators of the Christmas Season, but in an all but normal year where families will be spread out from each other the YMCA still trying their best to make sure families still have something to do together.

“We wanted to do something different where families could do something for the kids and really let kids have some kind of fun spark of imagination and creativity that they get to take home from somewhere,” said Dillon Nelson, Membership Engagement Manager.

To focus on community engagement and the promotion of social responsibility during a pandemic, the YMCA filled one hundred and ten goodie bags packed with plenty of activities for kids to enjoy and as an added bonus some candy canes.

“They’ve just got all sorts of activities in there, ornaments for the kids to make, Christmas sugar cookies and decorating kits and coloring books and candy canes and reindeer food,” said Peg Sinnard, Creative Arts Program Coordinator.

Each bag also came with a personal visit from Mr. Clause and his pal Elroy from the Kearney Elks Club.

While it’s a bit different than their normal “Saturday with Santa,” the YMCA said it was important that he still make an appearance for the kids — but in a modified sense to meet the requirements of the COVID era.

“Every year we all know that Santa comes around, he’s very prominent with our youth when it comes to this time of year, because it’s more of an excitement to actually see Santa,” said Nelson.

Now looking past Christmas, the YMCA said they hope that come next year, they’ll be able to once again go back to their normal activities for the kids.

“We’ll get things going, hopefully at the beginning of this next year, but I wanted to have something for the kids,” said Sinnard.

Cancer survivor shares her story and the importance of being mindful of the disease

by Danielle ShenkFriday, February 5th 2021

KEARNEY, Neb. — Almost 40 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer sometime throughout their life according to the National Cancer Institute but just like other diseases, some cancers can be prevented.

There are over 100 types of cancers and as we know, it’s easier to make efforts towards prevention rather than efforts towards a battle with a disease that has no known cure.

Kearney YMCA Healthy Living Coordinator Anne Johnson recommended some basic tips like eating a healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, while staying away from processed foods, exercising frequently and switching up the way you exercise, and using sun screen or layers when out in the sun, but more important for prevention are the screenings and knowing your family history.

She said having conversations about your genetics with your doctor could help save your life if something were to come up in your routine screenings.

Experts say early detection, treatment, and fewer people smoker are all reasons that the cancer deaths continue to decline.

The American Cancer Society’s most recent data shows a 2.4% drop from 2017 to 2018.

After watching her mother battle cancer, Johnson holds this topic close to her heart and wanted to take action in helping others by becoming a Live Strong instructor.

“it was kind of my way of helping my mother in a way. So it’s very heartfelt for me. As I’ve been teaching these classes, it has meant just that much more. Being able to just go out and help people through this challenge. I have met some wonderful people from this, it’s just been amazing,” said Healthy Living Coordinator Anne Johnson.

One of those people she met was cancer survivor Arla Houck.

They developed a bond that only continues to grow as they raise awareness about the disease.

“Cancer used to be thought of as kind of a death sentence, a friend of mine told me that just recently, In the past that’s kind of what it was, you would hear those words and you were like that’s it, throw up your hands and just kind of start making plans for the end, but that’s not how it is anymore,” said Johnson.

Cancer Survivor Arla Houck added, “my cancer was a life sentence two years prior before me, my type of cancer. My drug that helped save me had only been on the market two years through the American cancer society research.”

Prevention, prevention, prevention, early detection.. all of those things are so vital. Getting a colonoscopy, no one wants to do that but, would you rather have an hour of inconvenience, maybe a night of icky-ness, or a year and a half of treatment?

Cancer runs in Arla’s family and says her grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 46.

“Because of my grandma’s diagnosis, I then at 40, started mammograms every year..preventing, being very mindful of that history and at 46 they found a lump on a routine mammogram. From there they took a biopsy of that, and from there we started the treatment,” said Arla.

She said she went through about a year and a half of not so many good days but has since made it through to see her 11 grandkids grow up.

“My little babies walk the track with me at Relay (for Life) and on Wednesdays, I watch my grandson after preschool and we walk every Wednesday and at the end of the little video we do he says, “no more cancer grandma.” In my heart that’s why I do it. I never want to have to hear one of my grandbabies say, “grandma, I have cancer.””

She became involved in Relay for Life while going through treatment and eventually the Livestrong program.

“There’s not really a support group any more for cancer survivors and I don’t think she knew anybody in the class and so she was a little hesitant,” said Johnson.

But Johnson says she saw Arla quickly become friends with Steve Huffman as he showed her how to become more comfortable with weights and working out.

Arla made several additional friends along the way and was thankful to have others she could relate to.

“Sometimes we need a hug, sometimes we don’t want to burden others and say I can’t life my left arm but sometimes you want to life that left arm and I proudly can lift my left arm and I can crossover with my left arm,” said Arla.

She wanted other survivors to know you don’t have to go through this on your own and you shouldn’t.

“Learning about how to put on support socks. Have you ever done that? Nobody likes to do that. We have tricks, because why? We’ve been there, done that. Don’t do it alone,” said Houck, “there’s always ways to be stronger, to fight harder, and between Relay (For Life) and Livestrong, they have given me hope, they’ve made the impossible, possible

The Kearney YMCA’s Livestrong program begins next Tuesday on February 9th.

‘Stay With It:’ Fitness big part of Kearney centenarian’s life

Mary Jane Skala, Kearney Hub Feb. 5th, 2021

KEARNEY — As he does three times a week, John Cochran worked out Wednesday afternoon at the Kearney Family YMCA. As he merrily chatted with a few friends, he did sit-ups, bends, leg exercises and more.

Not bad for a man who will turn 101 on Sunday.

“Thirty years ago I was doing 90 sit-ups. Now I do 16. Once I passed the age of 100, I could tell a difference,” he said as he toned up his shoulder muscles on a machine. “I like these kinds of exercises.”

Instead of modern workout clothes, the retired UNK professor wore a red plaid long-sleeved shirt, brown trousers and black socks and black shoes.

“Here I am, I’ll be 101 in a couple of days, and my digestion is still relatively good. I sleep well at night. In the past couple of years, I’ll wake up at 1 or 2 in the morning. I always have good reading material on hand, so I read for an hour and a half or so and then go back to sleep and sleep the rest of the night,” he said.

“I used to get out to Cottonmill Park at least once or twice a week and hike 6 or 7 miles all around the trails. That’s a beautiful park. I really enjoyed that, but in the past year or so, I haven’t been doing as much hiking. A year or two ago they said I had a lateral vision problem and they took away my driver’s license, and with all this isolation, I can’t do anything anymore,” he said.

With that, Cochran moved to another machine and began doing sit-ups. Now that he can’t drive, his daughter, Tamara Long of Kearney, takes him to the Y three afternoons a week.

Ray Longoria, executive director at the Y, first met Cochran when he joined the Y staff 11 years ago. “He’s always in a great mood ready to tell a story. I’m always inspired when I see him here. We’re glad to have him as part of our Y family,” he said.

Cochran was born with the itch for fitness.

As a college student in Portales, New Mexico, he jogged 9 miles three days a week long before jogging became trendy. He has taken long-distance bike rides. He used to jog at Cottonmill Park and run on mountain trails in Colorado.

Cochran has climbed Mount Washington, a 6,288 peak in northern New Hampshire. At age 76, he climbed Wheeler Peak, the highest mountain in New Mexico at 13,161 feet. The day after that 12-hour, round-trip climb, “I could tell I’d had a good workout,” he said.

Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, on Feb. 7, 1920, Cochran’s life has been energetic, too. He briefly worked in shipyards at Connecticut (“I was no good. I learned I had 10 thumbs on each hand”) and spent time in the military before heading to Eastern New Mexico University. There, he scrapped plans to become a clinical psychologist and majored in speech and hearing disorders instead.

He worked in Salt Lake City, then at a college in San Marcos, Texas, “but I detested the heat and humidity,” so he headed north to Fairbanks, Alaska, where he opened a university’s speech and language department.

Returning to the lower 48, he spent a year in the Bronx and then “escaped” to Kearney in 1973 to teach communication disorders at what was then-Kearney State Teachers College, now the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

He retired in 1988. “Coming here was an excellent move. This is a nice town. I’ve met some very nice people,” he said.

His wife Averil died seven years ago. Along with his daughter, Cochran has a son John who lives in Albuquerque.

Just three years ago, Cochran was exercising at the Y five days week.

“For a time years ago I took up jogging, but 20 years or so ago, I read that jogging after age 70 is not a good idea, so I quit,” he said. He quit even though his doctor told him that, at age 70, he had the circulation of a 17-year-old.

Cochran keeps moving. He stayed away from the Y only when it closed last spring for COVID-19 and returned as soon as it reopened.

“Everybody I see up here, whether they’re teenagers or people in their 50s or whatever, I say, ‘Stay with it. Stay with it. You’ll be glad you did.’ You’re maintaining a higher level of resistance to viruses and breakdown of various kinds,” he said.

Moving to another machine, Cochran grinned and quipped, “I’m not quite where I was 50 years ago.”

Who is?

After nearly 101 years, John Cochran is still going strong

John Cochran, 101 Years Old (Feb. 2021)

by JAY SHATARA | KHGI ShataraThursday, February 4th 2021

KEARNEY, Neb. (KHGI) — Next time you’re lacking the motivation for the gym I want you to think about John Cochran, who will be 101 years old later this week.

He’s here at the Kearney YMCA three to five times a week. He said that he has never felt better.

“I try to do about 18 different exercises. Pull downs, I pull this way, I lift, I push, bands, leg exercises,” said Cochran.

You don’t live as long as John Cochran has without keeping a healthy workout routine like he has.

He said he doesn’t do as many sit ups as he used to.

“Back about 30 years ago, I could do 90 incline sit ups. Now I can do about 16. Once I passed the age of 100, I could tell the difference,” said Cochran.

But give him a break, he’s going to be a century and a year old. While most people his age wouldn’t be working out, you won’t hear any excuses from him.

“Well shame on those people my age,” Cochran said.

John’s daughter Tamara Long has been taking him to the Kearney Y for several years now. She admits, he’d go everyday if he could, because of his up bringing.

She said he lived through the Great Depression and did what he could to put food on his family’s table.

“Going through hard times always strengthens you and makes you a better person. Because it shows you can do it. You can make it, you can get through,” said Long.

His granddaughter Melissa Mathis, who is only a quarter of his age said he is somewhat of a celebrity around the gym, and also, an inspiration to most gym goers.

“They end up saying, when I get to be your age I hope that I’m in half as good of shape that you are and he always says no, you want to aim to be in better shape than I am,” said Mathis.

John loves to offer his wisdom to those who want to stop by and talk to him.

“I encourage all you young fellas, stay with it. The longer you stay with it, the more you put off some of the aging that naturally takes place,” said Cochran.