Pay it Forward Membership Program

This holiday season, the YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties is giving back by ‘paying it forward’. The YMCA is giving away six year-long memberships to local families and individuals in need.

The Pay It Forward Membership initiative was created for families and individuals who may be going through financial struggles, experiencing medical issues, or simply going through a rough time. At the YMCA, strengthening community is our cause. Every day, we work side-by-side with our neighbors to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. As an organization, we are dedicated to enhancing the spirit, mind and body of all persons through quality leadership, programs, services, and facilities.

Nominations for the Pay It Forward Membership initiative were collected this fall and were carefully considered by a committee of both YMCA staff and program committee members. Membership recipients were contacted the week of Thanksgiving and some are highlighted below!


White Family

Appointments. Appointments. Appointments. That is a heavily used word in the White household these days. Tera and Shane White have their hands full. Three of their four children attend weekly therapy and doctor appointments for various reasons. 10-year-old Chance was diagnosed with SPCD, ADHD, and a mood disorder. He attends counseling and occupational therapy every week. 8-year-old Vance has autism, ADHD and dyslexia and also attends speech therapy, counseling and occupational therapy every week. 8-year-old Aurora has anxiety and a mood disorder and attends counseling every week. With the number of therapy and doctor appointments, Tera is unable to work outside of the home, so the family relies on one income.

Doctors and counselors have encouraged the White children to participate in physical activities, such as swimming, rock climbing, jumping, bouncing balls and more – but with only one income, the family has been unable to afford a YMCA membership and other extracurricular activities.

The White family is thrilled to be a recipient of the ‘Pay It Forward’ Membership Program. They plan to utilize the Aquatic Center, Fitness Center, Kids’ Gym, Xerzone, and also attend group fitness classes and other events. For Chance, Vance, and Aurora, physical activity will help them to be calm and focus their concentration.

“This is such a great idea to help families or individuals who would like to have a membership and can’t afford it,” said Tera.


Hegg Family

Andy Hegg has a rare deteriorating bone disease. He has had multiple surgeries on his foot and has been in and out of crutches, wheel chairs and is sometimes completely unable to move because of the pain. Because of this, Andy has been on disability and unable to work for over five years. His wife, Chelsey, works outside of the home to provide for her family, which also includes three boys: Gavin (9), Kaiden (6) and Declan (almost 1). Healthy living is a priority for the Hegg family and they have thought about joining the YMCA in the past, but with a tight budget due to Andy’s surgeries, therapy, medical equipment and road trips to and from doctor appointments, they have needed to put their money toward other things.

“When I found out my sister had nominated us for this [Pay It Forward Membership] program and our family was given the opportunity for this program, I began to cry,” Chelsey explained. “The stress of my husband building strength and having pool therapy available to him was weighing heavily on our minds as we were reviewing options for him to continue pool therapy without the high cost we currently pay.

Andy plans to utilize the Aquatic Center in order to continue his therapy and exercises in the water, which will hopefully allow him to build up his strength and retain his mobility. Chelsey plans to work out in the Fitness Center and join in on group fitness classes. Gavin, Kaiden and Declan are excited to join their father in the pools and also try out the Kids’ Gym, Play Loft, Xerzones, PlayTowns and Climbing Wall.

“I am forever grateful for my kind hearted, loving sister, Alyson, for thinking of our family and grateful for the YMCA for offering a Pay It Forward Program to the Fargo/Moorhead Community,” Chelsey added. “What a great way to give back to families who wouldn’t have the opportunity the YMCA can provide with continued health and fitness.”


Allen Family

The Allen family has been dealt a handful of struggles in recent years. Chris was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma in 2015. Over the course of nearly a year, he underwent treatments of chemotherapy and also had extensive surgery to repair and rebuild the damage done to his back by the tumor. In February 2016, the Allens received the amazing news that Chris’s cancer was in remission. In the fall of 2017, however, he started to have increasing back pain again. During a long exploratory surgery, doctors found an extensive systematic bacterial infection in his bones and on the hardware that was used to reconstruct his back. In addition to Chris’s medical challenges, his wife, Shelly, recently underwent shoulder surgery and had to step away from work for six weeks.

The Allens are so excited to be able to use the Y as a place to heal and regain their strength. They plan to swim and walk laps in the Aquatic Center and also spend time with their children and grandchildren, some of which already belong to the Y and enjoy utilizing the Fitness Center, family-friendly spaces, and attending group fitness classes.


For more information about our Pay it Forward initiative, contact Britt Selbo at britt.selbo@ymcacassclay.org or 701.364.4111.