I received a card this morning from a friend that said, “Birthdays are a celebration of where we are in the circle of life.” No truer words could have been sent to me today. Last night we stepped off the edge and we are flying. Today I am celebrating where I am in the circle of life. I am celebrating the birth of Larkin’s Place within the Champaign County YMCA. 41 years ago, my mother celebrated giving birth to me and it is only fitting that today I feel reborn, rejuvenated, and fresh.
God is great.
LARKIN’S PLACE JOINS HANDS IN HISTORIC PARTNERSHIP WITH YMCA
CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign County YMCA and Larkin’s Place announced today a groundbreaking partnership that will result in a community recreation destination unparalleled in the country.
Larkin’s Place, a multigenerational, all-inclusive play space will be built within the new Champaign County YMCA. This unprecedented facility will be an example that other communities will emulate.
Champaign mother Amy Armstrong’s vision was to develop a center for recreation and rehabilitation that would embrace people of all ages and abilities. Armstrong’s 3-year-old daughter, Larkin, was born with Down syndrome and has a catastrophic seizure disorder.
“The YMCA’s mission of nurturing spirit, mind, and body with an emphasis on Christian values is synonymous with our own,” Armstrong said. “As the YMCA celebrates its 80th year of service to Champaign County we are about to embark on a rebirth, a renewal, in ways that will put this community far ahead of the curve.”
Champaign County YMCA board member Kay Machula said the collaborative project will cost an estimated $20 million. Fundraising is progressing following a lead gift of $5 million. The facility will be designed and built incorporating the principles of Universal Design, which promotes equal opportunity for use by individuals regardless of age or ability.
A new board has been created to oversee the collaborative efforts of the Champaign County YMCA and will be seated this week. Among the new board members are David Hood, Partner Martin Hood Friese & Associates, and former YMCA board President. Tim Johnson, Regional Director Fellowship of Christian Athletes; Greg Lykins, First Busey Vice Chairman; Rick Stephens, Chairman Horizon Hobby ; Jean Driscoll, Associate Director of Development, College of Applied Health Sciences University of Illinois; Kay Machula, Vice President UpClose Marketing and Printing, Jeff Wampler, Partner Erwin Martinkus & Cole; Jamie Chesser, President and Owner of Chesser Financial and Armstrong.
“There have been several changes to the YMCA plans over time,” said Machula. “In a very real sense, all the delays seem divinely inspired because they got us to an opportunity that might not have occurred otherwise. This idea is a bold vision and we have one little girl’s adversity and her mother’s tenacity to thank for helping us share in that vision.”