It was such a momentous occasion that the breaking of ground for the new $11 million expansion of the Norfolk Family YMCA was celebrated both inside and outside Thursday afternoon.
Inside the east gymnasium, more than 130 supporters listened as campaign leaders, supporters and YMCA officials discussed the needs and opportunities for the future that the expansion will make possible.
Appropriately, there were dozens of children who sat in places of honor as they and future generations will be among those who benefit the most.
Outdoors, campaign leaders and others turned dirt with gold-colored shovels as heavy equipment operated nearby.
Doug Burkink, president of the YMCA board of directors, took time to thank all the previous generations who have made momentous contributions to Norfolk.
“When you think about it, somebody developed Skyview Lake. Somebody developed Memorial Park. Somebody developed the soccer complex,” Burkink said.
With the YMCA team of leaders and board of directors, it was time for this group and generation to do its part, he said.
Randy Hagedorn, executive director of the YMCA, expressed appreciation to all those made donations and contributed in a variety of ways.
“How about this day?” Hagedorn asked an enthusiastic group of well-wishers as they applauded. “It is so exciting. We are pumped for this. What a great crowd.”
To raise $11 million has been incredible, Hagedorn said, and serves as a testament to the campaign leaders and how people feel about the YMCA.
There still is a small amount of money to raise, but the finish line is within reach, Hagedorn said.
The new addition, which will be two levels, will be 106,000 square feet, more than doubling the current size of 75,000 square feet. When finished — sometime in the first three months of 2019 — the YMCA will be a total of 181,000 square feet.
The architects are Clark Enersen Partners from Lincoln, There are four local companies that will complete the work and supply materials, with Beckenhauer Construction of Norfolk as the general contractor.
Hagedorn said along with helping to meet physical and fitness needs, the YMCA needs room to expand for programs, such as a rock steady boxing class. That class, for example, has proven to help patients with Parkinson’s disease.
With more square footage, there are going to be more opportunities to do beneficial programs like this, he said.
Jim Bradford Jr. of Norfolk served as the honorary chairman of the campaign and emceed Thursday’s groundbreaking.
Bradford said he remembers when ground was broken for the current facility in 1980. At the time, he was the youngest person on the board of directors. Now he feels like one of the oldest associated with it, Bradford said.
Bradford spent 33 years on the board and has led numerous fundraising campaigns for the community and YMCA.
Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning said a lot of people worked hard to make the day possible. He expressed appreciation for several people, including Aaron Otten and Jared Faltys, who served as co-chairmen of the capital campaign.
“What really excites me is it is exactly what we are talking about when we are talking about enhancing a community’s quality of life,” Moenning said.
This project will go a long way toward addressing needs in the community to provide more opportunities, especially for youths, the mayor said.
Moenning said he also is excited about the improvements to the YMCA campus and the link it provides to downtown and the North Fork River development for generations to come.
Faltys said he has always been impressed by the YMCA, its leadership and the staff. It also was a time to celebrate what has been achieved so far.
“You know it’s a big day when Randy Hagedorn wears a suit,” Faltys said with a laugh, “and people show up to see it.”
He also updated those in attendance on how the expansion was born from a community study four years ago that came in at an estimated price tag of $45 million.
About 70 percent of the items listed in the study have been tackled at a price of about one-fourth what was projected, Faltys said.
Otten said that when he became involved, he was a “casual user” of the YMCA.
Now he views the YMCA as a great opportunity to help recruit and retain employees and families in Norfolk.
On many weekends, there are families traveling two or three hours to attend events in places that will be similar to this expansion, Otten said.
“I think it is going to be a great thing for Northeast Nebraska. I think it is going to be a great thing for generations to come,” Otten said.
Tim DeFor of First Christian Church offered a benediction and appreciation to God for all the blessings.