For Hannah Kearns, a 21-year-old bubbly and outgoing Early Education student at Northern State University, the YMCA is a community that she’s grown up with. Her first experiences with the Y started during her time in our KinderKamp Preschool and Busy Beaver Camp programs, before eventually taking swimming lessons and attending Camp Cormorant. Though, out of all the programs Hannah’s been a part of, it was her time on the Gator Swim Team that made the biggest impact. “I’m a competitive person,” Hannah said with pride, “and being on the team gave me an outlet for that.” She says it also helped to nurture her passion for fitness. After turning 15, she was eager to give back to her community by becoming a lifeguard and swim lesson instructor at the Y. “I love having the opportunity to be a mentor to kids and teach water safety!” she said excitedly.
The Y has always been a family affair for Hannah, having shared her mother’s passion for the Gator Swim Team. Her grandpa, Ralph Jose, has also been involved with the Y, serving on the Board of Directors, many program committees, fundraising for the Y’s Partner of Youth Annual Campaign (alongside Hannah’s grandma, Darlene), and also served as a Fitness Associate for over 20 years. Hannah hears stories all the time from Y members about simple acts of kindness they’ve received from her grandpa around the Fitness Center, whether it be a word of encouragement or a warm towel after a workout. Hannah admits she strives to emulate those actions through her own work at the Y, improving members’ lives one smile or friendly greeting at a time.
Although she’s an avid swimmer and workout warrior, Hannah will tell anyone that the Y is much more than a pool or a gym. Christian principles and strong friendships are what keep her coming back to her YMCA community. Some of her greatest
memories revolve around a group of friends who she grew up with in Y programs, going from day care straight to swimming lessons or practice every week day for nine straight years. “My Y friends even reunited for a picture under the famous ‘Y sign’ where we all wore shirts showing off our respective colleges!” Though their adventures as Busy Beavers and Gator swimmers are long past, she feels the bonds that they’d built at the Y will always stay with each of them.