First time an entire family receives the Y’s Highest Volunteer award
Volunteers are the heart of the Y. With a focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, Y volunteers give men, women and children of all ages and from all walks of life the resources and support they need to be healthy, confident, connected and secure.
This year for the first time, an entire family, the Vanderkaays, was honored with the John Copeland Award at the annual Heart of the YMCA Volunteer Recognition Dinner at the Tigers Club in Comerica Park. The family has been active in swimming for decades and son Peter Vanderkaay is a four-time Olympian and has won at least one medal each time.
The sons began their swimming careers at the Y in Rochester, where they grew up. And in December of 2011 the family helped the Y launch their groundbreaking, high-impact Detroit Swims project (http://detroitswims.org ). Since its inception, they have supported the program’s goal of teaching every Detroit child to swim by fifth grade.
Since that first press conference more than two years ago where the Vanderkaays stood with Y staff to announce Detroit Swims, the YMCA has raised over $100,000 – with support from Illitch Children’s Charities, the Detroit Auto Dealers’ Association, Somerset Collection and over 280 other individual donors. And that support means 1,546 Detroit children can swim well enough to be safe in the water.
“The Vanderkaays have been invaluable to the Y’s effort to raise funds and awareness for the program,” said Dan Maier, YMCA Executive Vice President.
“Their collective passion is why the Vanderkaay family is the first family to ever receive our prestigious, coveted John Copeland Award for Civility and Community Service,” said Maier.
John Copeland was a Y director whose impact on the Y was felt here in Detroit and on a national level. Educated in a one-room North Carolina schoolhouse, John Copeland attended Oberlin College on a full scholarship, where he played football, basketball, baseball and track – and even participated in a race against iconic Olympian Jesse Owens.
Copeland’s YMCA career ultimately brought him to Detroit. Copeland is credited with overseeing the YMCA’s effort to fully integrate and ensure membership equality for all YMCA members during the 1960s. In 2003, the Y created the John Copeland Award for Civility to honor Copeland’s example and service to Detroit.
About the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit:
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Throughout Metro Detroit, Y's engage more than 300,000 men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the region’s health and well-being and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in communities throughout Metro Detroit, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. For more information go to: www.ymcadetroit.org or contact Chad Creekmore at (313) 223-2487.