The YMCA, Always Here For Our Community

Past Event Speakers

2016 - Jeff Bauman, Boston Marathon Surivor

 

On April 15, 2013 Jeff Bauman stood at the finish line of the Boston Marathon eagerly awaiting his girlfriend Erin, who was running in support of a local charity. As he waited, an ominous looking man dressed in dark clothing appeared, and Jeff immediately had a sinking feeling. The man who seemed so out of place on such a festive day dropped a black backpack only feet away from Bauman and moments later, the first of two explosions rocked Boylston Street. Jeff was gravely injured, losing both of his legs along with other serious injuries. When he arrived at the hospital, he told officers and medical staff that he knew who did it, but he was rushed into the emergency room and into surgery so quickly that he didn’t have time to share the details. When Jeff woke up, FBI agents were outside his door. He started talking, a sketch artist started drawing, and soon the FBI had identified the two suspects. Days later their reign of terror over the city of Boston had ended and Jeff Bauman went from a normal 27 year old Costco employee, musician and Boston sports fan, to national hero. Since that tragic day, Jeff has remained a beacon of hope, strength and resilience. Now he is sharing his story with audiences across the county in a presentation that will be sure to uplift and inspire.

 

2015 – Chris Herren

 

It only took 10 years and a counselor to tell him to “play dead,” to get Chris Herren of Fall River, Mass., back on track with his life. Growing up a basketball standout, Chris battled the pressures of making it big from an early age. After dropping out of Boston College, Chris landed himself on Jerry Tarkanian’s notorious Fresno State team, where players were likely to be found on both police blotters and All-American lists. Chris failed drug tests at BC and Fresno State, but he was so talented that he was drafted into the NBA anyway, ending up with the Boston Celtics. But at the moment he was realizing his childhood dream of becoming a star for the home team, Chris was falling in a 10-year-long spiral of addiction. He bounced from team to team, country to country. Ultimately, became sober and is able to speak about his life in the world of basketball and alcohol and drug addiction. He has found redemption and personal fulfillment through the game and enjoys spending time with his family that he had ignored the better half of his adult life.

 

2014 – Blake Leeper

 

Ever since Blake Leeper was a child, he has been determined to be a star athlete. Although Leeper was born a bilateral below-the-knee amputee, he was raised to believe the only disability in life is a bad attitude. Using prosthetics from an early age, he has overcome extreme obstacles. Through all the ups and downs, he has stayed true to himself and kept his eye on one ambition: to become the first American Paralympian to run in the able-bodied Olympic Games. Coming off a Silver and Bronze medal in London, his sights are now set on Rio, Brazil in 2016, Leeper, known as “The American Bladerunner,” has a history of making people take notice. He continues to turn heads with his amazing performance on the track and in front of audiences when sharing his personal journey of overcoming the odds.

 

2013 – Wes Moore

 

Wes Moore grew up in a drug, crime, and poverty-stricken inner-city neighborhood. Defying the odds, Wes ended up graduating Phi Theta Kappa from Valley Forge Military College in 1998 and Phi Beta Kappa from Johns Hopkins University in 2001. During his time at school, he learned of another Wes Moore, who grew up in a similar neighborhood and socioeconomic class, but found himself with a life sentence in prison. Based on this story, and later his first book, The Other Wes Moore, became an instant New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. Wes also served as a paratrooper and Captain in the United States Army, participating in a combat tour of duty in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division. Currently, he is also the host of “Beyond Belief” on the Oprah Winfrey Network and Executive Producer and host of “Coming Back with Wes Moore” on PBS.

 

2012 – Chris Herren

 

It only took 10 years and a counselor to tell him to “play dead,” to get Chris Herren of Fall River, Mass., back on track with his life. Growing up a basketball standout, Chris battled the pressures of making it big from an early age. After dropping out of Boston College, Chris landed himself on Jerry Tarkanian’s notorious Fresno State team, where players were likely to be found on both police blotters and All-American lists. Chris failed drug tests at BC and Fresno State, but he was so talented that he was drafted into the NBA anyway, ending up with the Boston Celtics. But at the moment he was realizing his childhood dream of becoming a star for the home team, Chris was falling in a 10-year-long spiral of addiction. He bounced from team to team, country to country. Ultimately, became sober and is able to speak about his life in the world of basketball and alcohol and drug addiction. He has found redemption and personal fulfillment through the game and enjoys spending time with his family that he had ignored the better half of his adult life.

 

2011 – Patrick Hughes

 

Patrick is a remarkable young man who was born without eyes and without the ability to fully straighten his arms and legs, making him unable to walk. Despite these circumstances that may seem overwhelming, Patrick has overcome the physical issues to excel as a musician, student, performer, and public speaker. Having learned the piano at the age of only nine months, he was destined to accomplish great things.  Patrick has made appearances on multiple popular television talk shows, performed at the Grand Ole Opry, and has even participated in the University of Louisville Marching Band with help from his father, Patrick John Hughes.

 

2010 – Team Hoyt – Inaugural event

 

Competing and completing six Ironman triathlons, 70 marathons, and a bike/run trip across the United States is no small feat for anyone, especially when one of your teammates can’t walk or talk. Such is the case of Dick and Rick Hoyt, better known as – Team Hoyt. At birth, Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, and was never expected to live a “normal life.” In the spring of 1977, Rick communicated to his father that he wanted to participate in a 5-mile benefit run, Dick agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair and they finished all 5 miles. Since then the team hasn’t stopped, logging over 1000 events together.  To this day, Hoyt’s quest and determination for Rick’s inclusion in community, sports, education and one day, the workplace has never ended.