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Y 'all in' with Priceless Gifts campaign
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The Effingham YMCA is going all in.

The YMCA kicked off its Priceless Gifts campaign Thursday evening with a goal of raising $50,000, behind a theme of “We’re All In.”

“This is about raising money for what happens in the building,” said YMCA executive director Kim Dennis. “We are blessed to have this building. Regardless of the building, we would still be here.”

The YMCA opened its 32,000 square foot building in July. But the Priceless Gifts campaign doesn’t go to the building.

It’s designed to provide the means for the programs the Y puts on in the building and elsewhere.

Last year, the YMCA of the Coastal Empire awarded more than $2 million in scholarships. Nearly two-thirds of that is spent on children attending the YMCA’s PrYme Tyme.

“That’s a great program,” said Effingham Y board chairman Pete Lancaster. “It brings them together in a Christian atmosphere.”

Campaign chairperson Patrice Morris recalled how her parents would let her run around the neighborhood, where everybody knew her, when she was a child. She has an 11-year-old son of her own.

“What would I do without the Y?” she said.

Other programs supported through Priceless Gifts include the Y on Wheels, which visits the Effingham County Senior Citizens Center, and Treutlen House.

Among the stories campaign workers will be relating is that of Johnny Bryant. Bryant slipped on a piece of ice on his kitchen floor in 1997, and the former bricklayer was told by doctors he would never walk again.

He spent the next six years homebound before getting a grant from the state’s brain and spinal injury trust fund commission for a Y membership. A YMCA scholarship picked up the remaining costs.

When he got to the Y, Bryant could only use one finger, which he used to control his automatic wheelchair. He spent three days a week with trainers trying to get his muscles and limbs working again, and Bryant resumed walking last year. His goal is to walk without the aid of a walker this summer.

Last year, the Effingham Y gave $78,000 in scholarships and helped 1,300 people.

“It can be done,” Lancaster said. “We don’t turn anyone away.”