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Building Strength and Gaining Friendships

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June 15, 2017 | By Melissa Petruzzi


Sis Bethem is not a typical 88 year old woman.

She has endured six fractures and seven hospital visits since 2012, including time in intensive care with her initial fracture.

What sets Bethem apart from the norm is how she decided to handle her recovery.

Bethem began utilizing the Mon Valley YMCA to work out after completing physical therapy with each fracture.

Bethem's most recent fracture, which occurred on June 3, 2016, was a spinal fracture. This fracture would cause her to spend months in a brace. As usual, her neurosurgeon suggested physical therapy. However, Bethem told him that she would prefer to work out at the YMCA.

Now, at nearly 89 years of age, Bethem is working out at the YMCA four days each week.

"I think it's made me stronger," said Bethem. "I'm hoping to get even more stronger. It really has helped."

Peggy Herforth, Bethem's daughter, is the wellness director at the Mon Valley YMCA. She has personally watched her mother's recovery and witnessed the role the YMCA has had in it.

"Sis is motivated by caring instructors, the friendly staff, and the many friends she's made at the Mon Valley YMCA," said Herforth. "Her sense of humor and love of family and friends have made it much easier to bounce back each time, but consistent exercise keeps improving her physical and mental capacities and allowing her to get the most she can out of life."

"You meet some nice people there," said Bethem. "I just enjoy being there, that's all."

Jeff Vitale, the executive director of the Mon Valley YMCA discussed what the YMCA means to the community.

"The Y is something different to so many people," said Vitale. "From health and wellness, to education and child care, to our work with other organizations, there is so much we can offer to impact our community. We have so many programs and services that we are proud of, but we are most proud of that sense of community and the fact that our doors are open to everyone, regardless of their race, religion, origin or ability to pay."

For Bethem, that sense of community along with the services available at the Mon Valley YMCA are exactly what she needs for her continued recovery.