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    If you watch TV on Hulu you've seen the Because of Camp commercials. They make camp - any camp - look like the most awesome thing that can happen in a kid's life. I wouldn't know. My mom couldn't afford to send me to camp and I turned out - ahem. Parents, let this be a lesson to you. Camp is important.


    The Northeast YMCA is on a mission to make sure no one's kids grow up to have green hair and nose rings after college. They want to make sure every kid can go to camp - and they need your help to make it possible. 


    "We have a fundraising goal of $105,000 by April 2," said Laurie Madden of the Northeast YMCA Branch. "Last year we gave out over half a million dollars in benefits. We're giving a whole lot more than we're raising, and that's the beauty of working for the YMCA. We do whatever we can to make it happen for people." One hundred percent of all funds raised in the Spirit campaign are used for financial assistance, so you know every dollar you donate is helping someone here in Louisville. 

    The Northeast YMCA is waiving membership fees for all employees of any business which gives $1000 to the Spirit campaign before April 2. If you're a small business which can't afford $1000, they're offering the same deal to any group of businesses that raises $1000 collectively. That means if five small businesses band together and donate $200 each, all their employees will receive the same discount. In addition, the YMCA offers Member Appreciation Weeks where Spirit campaign donors are welcome to set up a table in the lobby promoting themselves to members. Over 50,000 individuals came through the door in January alone, so it's a cheap form of advertising which also helps the community and gives you a tax writeoff. Everybody wins. 

    The YMCA is also a heck of a lot nicer than it was when I was a kid. I went in expecting something a notch under "Average Joe's" gym in Dodgeball.  Instead, the Northeast branch looked just as nice as the Louisville Athletic Club - only with a larger pool and more family activities. 

    The Spirit campaign funds more than just camp. 

    "When you have a single mother who's struggling to get her kids active and we tell her you can bring the kids here for 75% off and they'll get six weeks of intramurals, that's a huge thing," said Madden. Funds raised through the Spirit campaign go towards camp, intramurals, and even gym memberships. 

    "We strive not to turn anyone away due to an inabily to pay. If someone comes in and says they'd love to join but can't afford $50 a month, we can say, 'You know what? Don't walk out the door. We have an opportunity to help you.'  It's what I love about this job. It blows your mind to see a lady on the treadmill who's lost 40 pounds. She could barely walk when she came in, and now she's on there for 45 minutes and her doctor says it's saving her life. That's what we're all about," said Madden.  

    If you'd like to make a tax deductible donation to the YMCA's spirit campaign, contact Laurie Madden at before April 2. 

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