WINONA LAKE — A crowd of approximately 250 people began their Friday, March 30, at Christ’s Covenant Church for the YMCA Good Friday Breakfast.
The program included testaments from YMCA members as well as a keynote speech from former Olympic marathoner Ryan Hall.
Local pastor Bill Wood said the YMCA and its programs had been a blessing to him and his family. Wood said it was initiatives such as the YMCA’s Livestrong that made things a little easier when his wife got back medical news.
“Priscilla, approximately two years ago, was given a diagnosis of breast cancer,” Wood said. “It was a traumatic time, it was an exciting time. The Livestrong program has been very important to us. We didn’t really know how important until we started to participate. The Livestrong program helps a person to return to the physical strength that they had before this horrible disease set in.”
Wood also touted the quality of the new facility located adjacent to Parkview Warsaw Hospital.
“The physical exercise is extremely important,” he said. “The facilities that are there are excellent, they provide just about anything you would want to do.”
Hall, who was a high school and collegiate distance running standout as well as an Olympian, was introduced to vigorous applause. The now-retired runner touted the importance of strong family units as well as a spirituality.
“I love Good Friday,” Hall said. “I don’t know about you guys, but I just think about what we’re celebrating.”
Hall was quick to point out how he and his family try to live by the Christian mantra of emulating Jesus Christ.
“I always rip this off from my wife but she says ‘it’s like we have a Jesus suit around us now’ — so incredible,” he said. “I’ve always been inspired to celebrate Good Friday by doing hard things and my kids are now forced to do these hard things with me.”
Hall recalled numerous life lessons experienced since deciding to become a runner when he was still a child. In 2008 as a member of the Olympic team in Beijing China, he fell back in the crowd and began to become discouraged. He said he began to pray and as a result, started to encourage the other runners around him. Through that, he said, his own performance began to improve enroute to a 10th place finish. The defining moment came in the tunnel leading into Olympic Stadium when he said he felt God talking to him the most.
“I’m so glad that God got ahold of me in that tunnel,” he said. “At the end of the day, I know that God has my best interests at heart.”