Happy Birthdays

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. 





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.”




 Champaign Urbana News-Gazette Article

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Happy Birthdays

  1. Jen says:

    Tears of Joy! Happy birthday! Congratulations! WooHoo!!!

  2. Melanie says:

    Happy Birthday Amy and what wonderful news! Enjoy your special day, God must have known you needed sunshine today because with this special day you got warmer weather and lots of sunshine to enjoy!!!! Hugs from the Bates family

  3. Terri says:

    CONGRATULATIONS Amy, I have joyful tears. I cannot wait to come to Larkin’s Place!

    Happy, Happy Birthday!

  4. cathy says:

    Happy Birthday! What a terrific present for the whole community to share- thank you from the bottom of our hearts! I’m so excited that this is happening and being led by such a wonderful woman- you ROCK!! I hope your birthday continues to surprise you in terrific ways 🙂

  5. Ami G says:

    Congratulations! I am so excited for you and proud of you! What a wonderful birthday gift that announcement is!

  6. Jill says:

    Happy Birthday Amy! I am overwhelmed with joy for you and your vision!! Look at what you are accomplishing! You are a true hero my friend!

  7. Heather says:

    I have been reading your blog as a lurker for a long time now. I saw today’s paper and was brought to tears for you. You must be thrilled! Congratulations and happy birthdat.

  8. Cynthia says:

    Congratulations, Amy. You should be so proud of your accomplishments and your wonderful daughter.

  9. lbotp says:

    We’re supposed to give you presents for your birthday, not the other way around. Thank you!! And have a great dinner!

  10. Jaimie says:

    That is incredibly wonderful 🙂

    Jaimie (shimmeringstars on DownSyn)

  11. mrs.chicken says:

    What a wonderful gift. As you are to our community, you and Larkin.

    Happy day to you.

  12. Leeanthro says:

    You are an incredible woman. I got tears of joy too as I read this.

  13. Barbie says:

    Wow. Just that. Oh, and Happy Birthday, too.

  14. Cynthia says:

    I got home from South Carolina with Judi last night and once I got settled I sat down outside with the paper only to see that headline!. I can’t even tell you how thrilled I was. Truly!

    Thinking of you and all you are accomplishing….

  15. Laura Wright says:

    Amy….you are a true visionary and pioneer. You are leaving a legacy for many that come behind you, and you are such a champion for Larkin and others. Thanks for being an example to all of us who want to make this world a better place while we are here. You’re my hero!!

Leave a Reply