Strengthening Family Bonds at the Y

Rose, daughter Dawn, and granddaughter Stephanie enjoy staying strong physically and bonding as a family at the Y. They are regulars at Monday morning Zumba where at 84, Rose is one of the oldest participants. Afterward, they go for a post-workout tradition: coffee and breakfast.

Initially, Stephanie got Rose and Dawn into Zumba with guest passes, but it wasn’t long before they were hooked and joined the Y. Rose recalls the first time she did Zumba. It was tough, but they persevered. Dawn attributes this to the fact that “We keep each other accountable and encourage each other to keep fighting for our goals”.

In addition to classes, Stephanie has been using the EGYM and getting stronger. Her dedication has paid off with less inflammation and lower back pain as well as a sense of well-being. She acknowledges the physical and mental benefits of exercise, “Working out is good medicine for when I’m anxious about something”.

Several years ago, Rose’s husband passed away. Her daughter Dawn says how proud he would be of Rose for her determination to keep moving forward. Both Dawn and Stephanie look to Rose’s faith and resilience as inspiration. Together they have found community at the Y, where shared values and friendly faces make it feel like home.

For Rose, Dawn, and Stephanie, the Y isn’t just a place to exercise—it is a place to thrive, to connect, and to find strength in each other.

“We keep each other accountable and encourage each other to keep fighting for our goals”

We’d love to hear your Y story!

Finding Hope Again: Lori’s Story

Lori on EGYM

Since COVID-19, Lori has been unable to find a secure job. In late 2023, she was unexpectedly laid off and felt she had lost hope. Stuck in a rut with no job or place to go during the day and not knowing anyone in Watertown, she knew something had to change.

She had been contemplating a Y membership but was concerned about the cost. Not used to being the one needing help, one day she stumbled across the link to apply for financial assistance. She was approved and from there was “catapulted into all these connections and positive influences.”

Lori says the Y has changed her life mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. She started playing pickleball and found the blessing of friends in her same age bracket. This month, Lori completed her first EGYM workout program. She says, “Even in the first week, I could tell it was changing my strength level. I am standing up straighter and feeling taller”.

While working out at the Ehlinger Center one day, she was overjoyed to see people with disabilities exercising through the Fitness Friends program. She is excited to start volunteering with the program and giving back after being blessed herself.

Lori is so grateful to the Y for providing the opportunity to become a member. She says, “The Y picked me up and gave me hope again.”

“The Y picked me up and gave me hope again.”

We’d love to hear your Y story!

Journey to a Healthier Lifestyle: Tim’s Story


After Tim had spent years traveling for work and eating on the road, he realized that he wanted to make some serious changes in his life. He changed jobs and decided that he wanted a whole new lifestyle with health as the main focus.

Tim not only wanted to feel better, but also set an example of health for his children. Tim, his wife, and two children started going to the Y daily, doing anything from trying new classes, weight training, cardio, or just playing basketball with the kids. It did not take long for Tim to set higher goals for himself. He wanted to become stronger, faster, and build stamina. Tim began going to the gym two times a day for 5 months straight, along with running to and from the Y from home. He not only started to see extreme weight loss of 70lbs, but also a muscle transformation. He was gaining muscles, strength, endurance, and a super positive attitude. Tim is now down over 100lbs, running 5Ks, and the Y has become his second home.

Tim encourages, “Give yourself a year and it’s a life changer. The Y staff are friendly and the members are good. Because of the Y, everyone in our family is active.”

“Give yourself a year and it's a life changer. The Y staff are friendly and the members are good. Because of the Y, everyone in our family is active.”

Tim’s favorite classes are TRX and MX4. He enjoys finishing his workout with the sauna and truly feels like it helped with his overall journey. 

We’d love to hear your Y story!

Member Highlight: Sean Daley

Member Highlight: Sean

When Sean first joined the Watertown Area YMCA in 2015, he had a great first impression. Now he’ll tell you he has an even more elevated impression that “stemmed from participating in fitness classes which I didn’t know I needed or wanted when I had initially joined. More specifically, the trainers and instructors – they are dynamite!”

In 2023, Sean had emergency back surgery after suffering severe pain since an injury as a teen. He had to relearn how to walk, taking daily walks around his property to get stronger. As soon as he could, he came to the weight room, not to work out yet, but to see his Y friends, who had been concerned about him.

He is back now on a regular basis, with lifting restrictions of 20 pounds, which is teaching him patience, to say the least! He has been known to have conversations with members about the Packers and once had to do 50 push ups because he lost a bet.

He says “I value how much is added to my day each time I go to the Y. I look forward to seeing the friends that I have there and the equipment itself – I love it!”

“I value how much is added to my day each time I go to the Y. I look forward to seeing the friends that I have there and the equipment itself – I love it!”

Sean enjoys weightlifting, cardio, Moi Cycle, Les Mills BodyPump, Core and BodyBalance as well as making sure he stretches when he is done with his workouts.

We’d love to hear your Y story!

Living Blessed

We lost one of our heroes at the Y. Roy Benford, aka Chako to many, lost his battle to cancer in early January, 2024. Chako was a regular in the YMCA at Pabst Farms branch and always brought a positive outlook on life when he visited. To our staff in the wellness center, Chako was family. And when a team of Y staff visited him in the hospital a few weeks ago, he introduced them to his biological family, saying “this is my YMCA family.” It was quite the bond, built by a mutual love for fitness, health, family and a deep faith.  

Chako had friends at many different levels here in the Y. But his dearest friends were most likely the ladies who would see him first most every day at the west end welcome desk. There was a relationship between them that would precipitate long conversations centered around family and faith as he would enter or leave the facility. Chako was a true encourager to them, and they to him. And that’s how he related to everyone he encountered on every visit. When greeted and asked how he was doing, his standard answer would always be, “I’m blessed.” And he truly lived that way, even after receiving this diagnosis and up to the day he no longer had the strength to visit the Y.  

Chako has left a legacy of love for mankind among many of our members and staff here at the Y. And his shoes are some big ones to fill. Our hope is that his memory will inspire all of us to live our lives in such a way that, in spite of circumstances this life can bring, we can all say, “I’m blessed.” Because we truly are, and Chako has helped us believe that in the way he lived every day. You are our hero, Chako.  

Photo of Roy Benford

Fitness is Better Together

In September 2022, longtime Y member Cheryl Hoegele-Schlicht was enjoying a weeklong trip to Las Vegas with her adult daughter, Jess. The two ladies realized that they were easily achieving 15k plus steps each day, walking around Vegas. They kept it up every day while on vacation. After they returned home, they decided to continue their daily streak and held each other accountable to working out each day.

After completing 30 days, the next goal was to reach 100 days. 100 days was tough but they did it. Mother and daughter kept on moving! A year later, Cheryl and Jess met their goal of exercising daily for 365 days in a row. They celebrated their one year with a trip back in Vegas, where it all started. It’s now November, and their streak is still going strong, for over 400 days and counting.

Cheryl attends Y group exercise classes to stay motivated in her journey. She enjoys a variety of classes including water aerobics and BodyCombat and she credits her experience in class and the fitness instructors as being very strong contributors to her success. “All the instructors are inspirational. I told a few of them about my goal, which helped me stay accountable. Kathy Wood in particular has been a great support. She gave me an inspirational quote bracelet on Day 100, which kept me motivated on some days where I didn’t feel like exercising.” 

Cheryl has found that classes definitely makes working out more fun; “I’ve made friends in classes that are now my friends outside the Y. Between knowing that there will be people expecting me to come, the great music and the enthusiasm of the teachers, I know I’ll get a challenging & fun workout.”

This kind of commitment doesn’t come easy. Cheryl says there were days where she was busy & didn’t get her workout done until after 10:00pm. But her commitment to herself, to her daughter and her “Y people” kept her going. “Knowing that people at the Y cared about me helped me stay accountable.”

If you’re looking to make exercise part of your regular routine, Cheryl has some advice: “Use the app to look for classes. Don’t be afraid to try something new. The instructors care and are there to help you. List your exercise or classes in your personal calendar as an appointment, so you make it a priority. Even if it’s not 7 days a week – set a goal for yourself. For an added bonus, tell someone that you’re doing it. You will become stronger physically & emotionally, when you prove to yourself that you can do it.”

Our fall group exercise schedule is loaded with opportunities for you to get in a fun workout with friends. If you’re new to group exercise, try an “intro” class before the real class and learn about the format, come early to class and introduce yourself to your instructor or schedule a SMART Start appointment to learn more about classes that would be a good fit for you.

Photo of friends in Vegas

Acting FAST to Make a Difference

When medical emergencies happen at the Y, there is a team of staff that show up to support the member or guest. More than a dozen of our staff are Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) trained and all of our Aquatics, Wellness and Manager on Duty staff have CPR and First Aid certifications.

In late June, our staff was put to the test. Christine is a long time member of the Y. She started doing our new Strength and Balance class earlier this spring lead by one of our Personal Trainers, Jody Arndt. After class Jody noticed that something was not quite right with Christine. “I noticed Christine sitting at the table … and I went over there and then right away she said ‘I don’t feel well.’ She was very confused. That’s not like her at all – she’s very sharp.”

Jody called for the Manager on Duty and several other staff came to assist. After a few questions, the Manager on Duty called Emergency Medical Services for their support and Christine was transported to the hospital. It was later determined that she had a stroke.

Christine made a strong recovery and was discharged to go home and to return to the Y. She is back in Strength and Balance class. Christine reflected on the whole experience: “I can’t say enough about Jody and the staff – I can’t be more thankful for how this was handled, because I believe that the fast response to something that was not normal probably saved my brain. I’m very thankful for that.”

Stroke effects more than 795,000 people in the US each year. Do you know what to look for when it comes to stroke warning signs? The American Stroke Association has an easy acronym to help you remember. Use the letters F.A.S.T to spot a Stroke.

F = Face drooping – does one side of the face droop or is it numb?

A = Arm Weakness – is one arm weak or numb?

S = Speech difficulty – is speech slurred?

T = Time to call 911 – stroke is an emergency and every minute counts. Note the time when any of the symptoms first appear.

In addition you may look for, confusion, trouble seeing, trouble walking, severe headache, or numbness. You can learn more about stroke, stroke prevention and symptoms you can look for at the American Stroke Association.

Giving Back to the Next Generation

Pictured above: Doug Meske, reading with YMCA child care children.

After devoting more than 50 years of his life to a career in family therapy, YMCA member, Doug Meske, knew that his time spent helping others was far from over. Once retired, Doug and his wife of 57 years, Rosie, decided to start volunteering their time helping at a local charity in the community, Lake Country Caring. However, even despite this outlet, something was still missing for Doug – the special interaction he once had working with families and children.

One afternoon, while walking on the indoor track at the YMCA at Pabst Farms, he noticed a long, red stroller being pushed alongside him with 6 smiling little faces beaming back at him. The joy from these happy YMCA child care babies was exactly what Doug was searching for! He decided to become a volunteer in the Y’s child care facility, working with children ages 6 weeks to 1 year old.

“Being a volunteer has truly given me a sense of purpose and accomplishment,” says Doug. “There is very little that compares to walking in and having these children crawl to me to be picked up and held. It is an absolutely wonderful feeling to know these little ones feel safe and comfortable in my presence.”

Doug also says another great feature of volunteering his time at the Y’s child care, is working alongside the incredible staff. The loving care, devoted energy and organization’s attention to detail are just a few of the reasons why parents choose the YMCA for their peace of mind. “It’s truly remarkable to be a part of,” says Doug, “and I am blessed for it.”

Pickleball – A Sport for All Ages & Abilities

For many Y members, the sport of pickleball can be a fun workout, as well as a wonderful social activity. Gaining in popularity over the last several years, pickleball, which combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, is a simple game, appropriate for players of all ages and skill levels.

That’s why you’ll find 92-year old Y member, Nelson Fischer, on the pickleball court three times a week, playing a sport that has him not only staying physically fit, but also making new friends along the way.

A YMCA member since 2015, Fischer has always been active, involved in everything from downhill skiing to various team sports. But surprisingly, if you’ve ever had the pleasure of getting to chat with Fischer, he describes his experience with pickleball as less to do with fitness, and more to do with camaraderie among fellow players.

“As you get older,” says Fischer, “you want to be around people more.”

Fischer spends a lot of his time at home, caring for his wife who suffers from dementia, and values the respite for his own well-being, by playing pickleball at the Watertown Area YMCA.

Because a pickleball court is smaller than a tennis court (you can actually convert one tennis court into four pickleball courts), gameplay allows players to be close enough to one another that they can hold conversations. 

“I’m so thankful for the friends I’ve made here, and realize how important it truly is,” says Fischer. “My time here at the Y, playing pickleball, has made me feel younger, both physically and mentally.”

To read more posts like this one, be sure to visit our main blog page at

Meet the Y Team: Dawn Liddicoat

Here at the Y, we have a great team of staff members! We’d love for you to put a face to a name and get to know them a little better. 
Each month, we will feature a different director from either our Pabst Farms or Watertown branch locations.
We hope you enjoy this new opportunity to meet our incredible Y Team! 

This month, we’d like you to meet…

Health & Wellness Director at the Watertown Area YMCA , Dawn Liddicoat.

Dawn enjoys encouraging members on their fitness journey. Here’s a bit more about Dawn…

How long have you worked for the Y?  I worked for the HAWC before it became a Y, so officially 12 years at the Y, part-time, then full-time. In this building, since before 2008, I started with teaching Pilates while I worked another job. 

My job at the Y is:  Director of Health and Wellness, so I teach fitness classes, do personal training, lead the wellness center staff and instructors, oversee the wellness center, fitness schedules, workshops and events.

Pets:  Our family dog, an English Springer Spaniel named Hallie. She will be the only pet I will ever have.

Hobbies include:  Walking, hiking and bike riding, baking and watching sports

I work for the Y because: The Y’s mission aligns with my values and supports the community that I live in. I want to be around people that have a growth mindset and enjoy supporting people in their journey to make themselves better in mind, body and spirit. 

Favorite music: I enjoy lots of different kinds of music, hymns and spiritual songs, workout music, piano, classical, pop, rock, but if I had to pick one, Top 10 from the 80’s.

Favorite movie: I haven’t watched too many movies since high school, but those that I have watched, I watched with my kids when they were little.  Toy Story and High School Musical are my top choices.

The most fun part about my job is:  Connecting with members and staff and encouraging them on their journey in a class.    

Favorite sports team: Brewers, Bucks, Badgers and Packers and teams my kids played on.

Favorite restaurant:  The Harvest Market, Café Hollander

The most meaningful part of my job is:  Seeing people gain confidence and grow in his or her skills, whether it’s an instructor learning a new class format or a member learning about a particular interest and meeting a challenging fitness goal.

Favorite way to relax:  Hiking in nature, massage, sauna and Infrared Light Therapy or just sitting outside on my back patio in the summer.

Favorite holiday:  Christmas and Easter

The biggest lesson I’ve learned while working at the Y is:  So many lessons! Community, leadership and it’s not about the money. 

Community – Until I worked for the Y, I didn’t really understand community, what it means or how it is a part of who I am but also who I serve. 

Leadership – While I didn’t have an interest or opportunity for much formal education beyond high school, I have always had a growth mind-set and I truly enjoy working.  I love how the Y supports learning about leadership, growing as a person and how to better work with others. 

Don’t work only for money – Do something you truly enjoy doing and embrace the journey of growing into the person God wants you to be. Working at the Y, you can make a difference in your community, your co-workers are your friends and you have all that you need inside yourself, you just need to discover it.