Meet YMCA Members: The Swartz Family
For the Swartz family, the Missoula Family YMCA is a second home. Tony and his sons, James and Cash, frequently visit the Y where they play basketball, walk the track, rock climb, and workout.
“The Y helped my family pull through a period that could have resulted in a disaster,” says Tony. “It’s built our confidence and given us a supportive, structured community.”
Tony’s life looked a lot different a decade ago. A TBI left him taking 21 pills a day. An acquaintance introduced Tony to meth and trouble ensued. When Tony’s sons were born, though, everything changed.
“I was raised by a single mother,” said Tony. “When my sons were born, I realized I needed to make changes. I wanted to be there for my sons—these are my dudes.”
One of Tony’s first goals was to find places where both he and his family could be safe and grow strong together. For the Swartzes, the Missoula Y is one of those places. When Tony first became a Y member, he was concerned about his health and weight. Tony started working out and, today, is in great shape.
“The staff are incredible motivators,” says Tony. “They know our names and check in with us.”
The Swartzes were regulars at the Y until 2020 when COVID-19 unfolded.
“We went from always being at the Y to having to stay home,” recalls Tony. “Through everything, my main goal was to not make this overly hard for Cash and James.”
Like many parents, Tony found himself taking on new responsibilities. “All of a sudden, I was trying to be a dad and a school teacher. We did a lot of athletics,” he says with a laugh. In addition to working out at the Y, Cash and James also train in mixed martial arts at the Sakura Doko.
“Between the Y and the Sakura Dojo, Cash and James have learned how to work out life challenges and frustrations athletically,” says Tony. “Their workouts and training have helped them to build confidence, take care of their mental and physical health, and respond appropriately to different situations.”
Today, Tony, Cash, and James are back at the YMCA and celebrating their tenth year as members. Four days a week, they can be found working out together as they go through a 90-minute workout that includes basketball, running, and the weight deck.
“We’re blessed to have such a great community here in Missoula,” says Tony. “The Y’s been a place where we’ve built up our courage, self-confidence, and strength, and we’re grateful for all that it does.”