Impact Story Apr. 2018


April, 2018 • TOWPATH TRAIL YMCA •
Impact Story: Dave Materna

Dave Materna recalls the exact date he joined the Towpath Trail YMCA: “December 4th,” he says. Four months. Such a small window of time to accomplish so much and yet that’s exactly what he’s done. To understand his story though, we must start at the beginning. But for Dave, it must have felt like the end to the current life he knew.

He recalls that date as well. “June 26th” he states. It was on this day that he had a massive stroke. Because of its severity, Dave was unable to care for himself and moved in with his mother, Janice and father, David. Prior to his stroke, Dave enjoyed playing the drums in over 30 punk/rock bands since the 70’s, riding his Kawasaki motorcycle and teaching writing classes at Akron and Kent State University for over 14 years after receiving a Master of Fine Arts and Creative Writing degree. He was the only one in his class to graduate.

Everything that he knew how to do in life was seemingly erased after that day though. Commonplace tasks such as walking, talking and writing became new obstacles for him to relearn.

When he and his parents joined the Y in December, he had begun slowly taking one step in front of the other using a walker for balance. Braving the cold weather, they arrived multiple times a week to help him regain his mobility and together, they have continued that pursuit ever since.

Written in his own handwriting, he offers a quote by Winston Churchill that keeps him motivated while on his journey of recovery: Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.

Dave attends the Mild Water Movement aquatics class during the week in addition to personal training sessions with Scott Laudermilk where they work one-on-one using an individualized workout program for him.

Steadily, Mr. Materna (or “Mr. Dave” as his students call him) has gained strength, mobility and stamina. He now comes through the doors of the Y without the use of his walker. He goes in the pool, exercises in the fitness center and trains with Scott all in one day. “It’s great for us as a facility to be able to provide all of these amenities for him, and everyone,” Mr. Laudermilk says.

Scott and other staff members have been very encouraging to Dave and his family. “Everyone here has been so friendly and helpful,” Janice proclaims.  

He now pedals on a stationary bike, punches heavy bags and weight trains. He tells Scott about how he walks up and down his 500 foot driveway at home in addition to his other exercises. “I know he’ll teach again because he’s determined,” Scott emphasizes, “He’s dedicated.”

Dave sums up the Y in two words: “Friendly” and “personable.” And that’s what it’s all about, to provide a welcoming environment for everyone, regardless of what season of life they’re going through. “We’re not saving the world, but we’re here to help others and make a difference in our community,” Jim Stanford, CEO says.

Dave’s mother describes that idea beautifully. In talking with Scott about having Dave train with him initially, she describes how the Lord places individuals in our life for a reason and at just the right time. “We’re all instruments in a higher hand,” Scott recalls her saying to him.

And indeed we are. We can choose to help others and be helped in return. How high the goals we’re able to reach when we have determination in our hearts and love by our sides.

Dave aims to return to his career as a college professor in the days to come. We’re sure that he will. 


Then your light will break forth like the dawn
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.


Isaiah 58:8


Written by Kaitlyn Meister


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