The Y is a place where Quang belongs

The Greater Wichita YMCA is a place where all of us belong. We participate in classes, programs and sports for many different reasons, but one thing is constant: the Y makes us feel welcome, accepted and loved. From that truth grew the #YiBELONG campaign. 

The Y is a unifying force throughout the communities we serve, and we’re so much more than swimming pools and weight rooms. It’s about the Y being there for cancer survivors who want to get moving again, individuals who are re-learning how to walk after a stroke, elementary school students who just need a safe space to grow mentally and physically before and after school and so many more. Families make up the Y, and the Y is family. 

Every person who comes here has a story to tell of how he or she has been impacted by the Y. We asked our members, participants, donors and staff to share why they belong at the Y on social media. We are honored to share some of the multitude of #YiBELONG responses we received. 

Let us introduce you to Quang, who will tell you in his own words why he belongs at the Ken Shannon Northwest YMCA. 

I’m not sure who needs to hear this right now, but I hope it helps. My journey the past five months has truly been humbling. (One night) I noticed my leg was numb. I tried walking it off as I thought it was just asleep. It didn’t take long for me to start noticing other signs and symptoms of a stroke. Emergency services were called, and I was on my way to the hospital. It was a hemorrhagic stroke. I don’t remember much of the events that occurred for the next week or two, but I had complete paralysis of my left side. 

My road to recovery started with in-patient rehabilitation where I would spend over a month re-learning how to perform daily tasks, including walking. There were plenty of moments where I wanted to/could have given up. It’s easy to do when you have an excuse. But then there were those moments of hope, little nuggets of inspiration that kept me going, literally one step at a time.

What helped me was focusing on small attainable goals that would end up leading me to be able to meet bigger goals. I left rehab in much better shape than when I entered. That’s when the real work started.

My recovery continued with out-patient rehabilitation, but I needed to supplement it with other ways to try and maximize my progress. So alongside physical and occupational therapy, I started going to the YMCA. They had resources available that have been so beneficial to where I’m at today. 

Knowing that the hours the Y was open meant a great deal to me, as it provided flexibility on when I could go depending on my schedule. I’ve spent most mornings getting into the pool to work on my “basics” with a little less gravity involved. I then enlisted the help of one of the Y’s personal trainers who helped me build upon everything I was already doing and then some. I know being able to have that professional knowledge and access to all the different types of equipment has been a huge factor in my recovery.

Since my stroke, I have went from paralysis, to a wheelchair, walker, then a cane. I still rely on the cane when needed, but I’m now walking mainly unassisted. I need to give credit where it’s due. The rehabilitation team, the YMCA staff, including my trainer Ashley Nicole, and, of course, my amazing wife and family. Without them, I am certain I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. By the same token, I am reminded that at the end of the day, I am the one that ultimately makes the decision to put in the time, to stay motivated and to continue on this path to recovery. With all the work they have put into getting me better, I can’t let them down, I won’t.

So please, keep on going, move forward, even if it’s one step at a time. Do it for your family, loved ones, and especially for yourself. Never quit and one day you’ll find yourself walking, too.

Why do you belong at the YMCA?

We want to hear from you on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and don’t forget to tag the Y branch you visit and include the hashtag #YiBELONG. You can also email your stories and photos/videos to angela.cato@ymcawichita.org.