After announcing his $10,000 donation to a Feith Family YMCA program that works with cancer patients and survivors, Bruce Krier broke into tears talking about the importance of LiveStrong and the impact the YMCA has had on his life since he started his own cancer treatment.
Krier, of Mequon, admitted he hadn't really been a member of the Y until early in his treatments when he joined the LiveStrong program in Saukville.
LiveStrong is "a physical activity and well-being program designed to help adult cancer survivors achieve their holistic health goals," according to the Feith Family YMCA website. "The 12-week program that meets twice per week and offers people affected by cancer a safe, supportive environment to participate in physical and social activities focused on strengthening the whole person."
Krier is a graduate of the 12-week program, and says he struggles to make the Y a part of his daily life — but he very much understands the importance of doing so.
"I've been on too many death beds," Krier said, of people who said they wished they had taken better care of their health.
LiveStrong just completed its second year of sessions, according to the Y's LiveStrong facilitator, Megan Ehlers. At the beginning, the local LiveStrong program was funded by a donation from the national LiveStrong organization — but its continued success relies on donations such as that made by Krier.
An annual reunion event on Thursday brought together members of the six groups of LiveStrong participants the Y has had, during which officials announced Krier's donation that will fund the program for two more years.
The program is open to individuals undergoing cancer treatments or survivors, as well as those patients' caregivers; it's free, and you don't need to be a YMCA member to participate, Ehlers said.
"We are very, very proud how strong the LiveStrong program at the Y is, and that starts with you making the decision (to join)," Feith Family YMCA Executive Director Jennifer Clearwater said to the crowd of former participants.
Joyce Herkowski, a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed in 2007, is also a graduate of the very first LiveStrong program at the Feith Family YMCA. She attended the reunion event, and said the camaraderie of the group helped as much as the actual activities.
"It wasn't the fact of getting your strength back — it was the closeness of the group, we're friends more than anything," Herkowski said.
Keelyn Lyon, vice president of center and community leadership for the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee and former executive director at the Feith location, spoke at the event, talking about the magnitude of Krier's donation and his "altruistic giving spirit."
"The family that surrounds Bruce and his friends, is truly an amazing group," Lyon said.
A tearful Krier thanked the YMCA and the group at the reunion event for the "honor" of being able to make such a donation.
"I try to promote ... a little LiveStrong wherever I go," he said.
For information about the LiveStrong program — offered at the TriCounty YMCA in Menomonee Falls as well as the Feith Family YMCA in Saukville — e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 414-274-0865.