The YMCA, Ensuring a Brighter Future

Lucas Herro

Defying the Odds


Lucas Herro, 26, has lived in Onalaska his whole life. He’s passionate about nature, spending time hunting and fishing. He enjoys volunteering his time and meeting new people. He loves hanging out with his family, his girlfriend, and his golden retriever. He has an associate’s degree in fire protection and is a member of the Campbell Fire Department.


Four years ago, Lucas broke his neck and damaged his spinal cord in a diving accident, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. He has spent the past four years working hard in therapy to regain as much function as possible. And part of his training and support system have included the YMCA.


A patient’s physical therapy cannot be done in a clinical setting forever, so Lucas was gifted a membership to the Onalaska YMCA. With a wide variety of programs offered for all ages and ability levels, the YMCA provided the perfect alternative therapy option. Working with a personal trainer, Lucas can maintain his health and activity level. He has made steady gains already, and is starting to see an increase in strength and endurance that reflects in his home life.


Against the odds, Lucas has been able to regain some muscle function. “Muscles in my arms, torso, and lower body are waking up,” he shares. “I am now able to stand, walk with assistance, drive, and the list goes on. The list of things I can do is much longer then the list of things I can't, and is continuing to grow.”


Being a member of the YMCA is more for Lucas than being a member of just a gym. The YMCA provides a positive, safe, clean, and judgement free environment for anyone looking to join. Lucas is a part of that YMCA community, and he’s surrounded by people who are also actively trying to improve their health and wellness. He says, “Why wouldn’t you want to surround yourself in an environment like that?”


Lucas is in it for the long haul. “My end goal is full recovery and the ability to live independently. This is a marathon not a sprint. I set small attainable short-term goals with the help of my trainer. Little mile markers in my own personal marathon of recovery. I've come a long way from where I started. I'm not sure how far I'll get, but with hard work, faith, and the continued care and support from the community, I believe anything is possible.” 


The community at the YMCA has definitely offered support, but they also offer mentorship and friends. Lucas is a perfect role model for anyone looking to overcome obstacles in their life. “Life is full of unexpected twists and turns,” he says. “It’s one thing after the next, after the next, after the next. The only thing we can control is our attitude, and how we choose to adapt and respond to the things that life throws at us. What kind of attitude will you choose to carry?”