“If I can help one person, or one person can help me, we lift everybody up.” -Donald

In 2016, Donald was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes, suffered a massive heart attack, had quadruple bypass surgery, and followed by several months of healing, was determined to change his lifestyle to get back on his feet. In May 2017, he registered for the National Diabetes Prevention Program (N-DPP) at the Ken-Ton Family YMCA. Little did he know; the program would help to completely change his life.

N-DPP is a 12-month community based weight loss program designed to help people learn the tools they need to make lifestyle changes and improve their overall health. “The program has been very helpful as far as learning how to eat differently,” says Donald. “I’ve learned different ways to establish a healthy diet. My numbers have dropped tremendously. My doctor is overjoyed. The program has been helpful and I’m glad I joined.”

At first, Donald says he was unsure about joining the program. “On my first day I thought to myself, ‘oh no I can’t do this. This isn’t for me.’ But I’m glad I stayed because I’ve learned so much. Knowledge is key when you’re dealing with so many chronic health issues. The more you learn, the easier it gets.” Aside from the educational component, he says he enjoys the comradery with others in the program. “It’s all about learning new things and sharing experiences,” he says. “I’ve met some pretty amazing people and we push each other to achieve our goals. The group is so sociable and everyone just wants to get better, and the coordinators want to see everyone in the program get better. I look forward to my daily workouts and the social atmosphere of the Y. If I can help one person, or one person can help me, we lift everybody up.”

Donald is able to participate in the program thanks in part to the Y’s financial assistance program. As a non-profit organization, the Y does not turn anyone away due to an inability to pay, something that Donald is grateful for. “When I got sick, I fell behind on my bills, so to be able to receive financial assistance from the Y was very helpful. It’s great knowing it’s available and I can continue my journey.”

Donald hopes others who have gone through similar experiences give the Y and the National Diabetes Prevention Program a try. “You can’t feel intimidated,” he says. “Just do the best you can do for yourself. I’ve learned to take things step by step. If I can survive open heart surgery, I figure I can do anything. I’m glad I stepped into the doors of the YMCA, and I’m glad I stuck with the program. I feel so much better.”

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