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Article Published May 13, 2010
Bob Brady: Making a Big Splash at the “Y”
It's no wonder that the new fitness center at the Valley-Shore YMCA in Westbrook is named The Brady Family Wellness Center, as it is truly a family affair.
Robert "Bob" Brady, board president of the YMCA since 2007, said as a kid growing up in Titusville, Pennsylvania, he was encouraged by his father, Bud Brady, to join the local YMCA. Bob's daughter Lindsay learned to swim at the Darien YMCA and was a member of the swim team at the Westbrook facility. He and his wife Margaret not only joined the Y in the 1970s and served it in a volunteer capacity, but they also have given generously, financially, to its causes for many years.
An active lifestyle has always been important to the Brady family-and the results show.
Bob's mother Dorothy is 96 years "young" and still plays tennis. His father, who passed away recently, was also in his 90s and enjoyed golf and tennis far into his golden years. It is fitting that the couple first met on a tennis court, says its son.
"My parents have been a big influence on my life," adds Bob, noting that his father, a dentist, worked hard, but also enjoyed himself through a love of sports.
One of the many reasons Bob has continued his devotion, participation, and contribution to the YMCA is the organization's focus on a healthy, active lifestyle.
"In our country, technology is allowing us to live longer and longer, but our lifestyle is working against us," he says.
YMCAs both locally and nationally have created an initiative called Activate America, says Bob.
"Healthcare is in an enormous crisis in our country," notes Bob, who owns Business & Legal Reports, Inc., in Old Saybrook, a publishing company that employs 150 people. "As a business owner, health care costs are my biggest expense."
Bob believes there are three levels of folks as they relate to an active lifestyle: the bottom level is the person who doesn't care about exercise and will never buy into the notion that a moderate amount of activity would improve his or her life. The middle level is composed of people who need the extra motivation to get moving. They often gravitate toward a place they find easy and fun to use. The top level is made up of people who are active on a regular basis or have always made it a part of their lives.
Activate America and the Y target the middle group, explains Bob.
"There is a huge opportunity here to have an impact on our local community and answer these global problems surrounding health care," he says.
Making exercise easy, fun, and available to the community is another goal of the YMCA. Founded in 1844 in London, England, YMCA stood for Young Men's Christian Association. The first U.S. YMCA was founded in Boston in 1851.
"We are not all young, or all men, or even Christian," jokes Bob. "Everyone is welcome at the Y. You see all generations and ages. No one is denied participation for lack of an opportunity to pay."
Since joining the Valley-Shore YMCA board in 1994, Bob has volunteered on the Public Relations Committee, the Initiative 2000 Committee (which raised money for a second swimming pool), and served as chair of the Staff Development Committee and the Golf Committee.
Many changes and improvements have taken place at the Westbrook Y, including the addition of the aforementioned second pool, renovations to the existing 40-year old pool, replacement of the plumbing and heating system, and the addition of a new aerobics area the new Brady Family Wellness Center. All in all, the improvements were a
$5 million investment, funded by donations from the community, operating surpluses, and a $1 million mortgage.
Bob, who calls himself more of a follower than a leader, said he is thankful for the guidance of fellow board members Stanley Prymas and Kathleen Laundy.
"I am truly honored that the Valley-Shore YMCA Wellness Center will bear my family's name," he says. "I hope that lots of people will get as much benefit and pleasure from it as I have over the past 30 years."