Illinois Valley YMCA kicks off Strong Kids campaign

Goal is to raise $30,000

The Illinois Valley YMCA's Strong Kids annual campaign co-chairpersons (left to right) are Michael Ficek, Rene Ficek and Eric Heagy.

The Illinois Valley YMCA in Peru launched its Strong Kids annual campaign on Wednesday to ensure everyone in the Illinois Valley has access to vital community programs and resources that support youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

The Illinois Valley YMCA serves as a gathering place for the community. Children arrive after school to play, do homework and participate in programs. Seniors meet for water exercise, walking and to connect with one another. Adults and families use the facility for recreation and exercise. To ensure the Y can continue to provide Illinois Valley residents with life enhancing services, the Illinois Valley YMCA has launched its Strong Kids annual campaign with a goal of raising $30,000, the organization announced in a press release.

“Throughout the Illinois Valley countless people know the YMCA. But there’s so much more to our Y than one might think,” said Chris Weittenhiller, YMCA CEO. “The Y is more than a gym. It is a cause. As a charity, we are dedicated to nurturing the potential of every child and teen, improving the county’s health and well-being, and providing support to our neighbors.”

The Illinois Valley YMCA has a policy it will not deny services to anyone based on an inability to pay. In 2022 the YMCA provided more than $184,000 in financial assistance to those who cannot afford to pay for YMCA membership, programs or services, positively affecting 848 individuals. The financial assistance program is funded by this annual campaign and American Rescue Plan Act funds provided by La Salle County.

The 2023 campaign has been organized and led by Sustaining Drive Co-Chairpersons Michael and Rene Ficek, and Eric Heagy, who started the planning process with YMCA staff in February. Collectively they were able to recruit eight team captains, who each formed a team of campaign volunteers. In total, more than 40 volunteers will be helping the YMCA raise funds in the next month to ensure everyone has access to the YMCA.

To learn more about how you can support the Y’s cause, contact Weittenhiller at 815-223-7904 or email for more information.