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.