O'Neil,Bobbi YMCA of Central KY

"To describe the impact that the Y has had on my life, I would need to go back to my childhood in Corbin, Kentucky. It was in 1957 and I was fortunate enough to have access to the Y, where I was enrolled in swimming lessons. Little did I know at the time that those lessons would have such a profound and lasting effect. The experience and enjoyment I got from learning to swim in this environment and the amazing opportunities offered by the facility helped shape how I lived my life. Through my formative years I would continue to find any excuse to be around the water, frequently remembering my amazing experiences and learning so much from the Y to enhance my ability, comfort and respect for the safety protocols around any body of water.  The availability of multiple programs and the exposure to the many water-based activities offered at the Y created a lifelong love of the water that has been an important factor in my life, and the life of my children and my grandchildren to this very day."

Like so many individuals, aquatics was an early and important entry point to the YMCA for Bobbi O'Neill, who works in member services at the C.M. Gatton Beaumont YMCA. In fact, Bobbi never forgot those early lessons in the pool - and they followed her through her life. Not only did she continue to enjoy water recreationally, she had a unique experience professionally, too.

"It would take some time, but I never wavered from a passion that eventually gave way to a dream: to own a water sports and scuba diving business in the US Virgin Islands. I finally made that dream come true and for 21 amazing years, focusing on what I had learned from the Y, I was able to share the learning, enjoyment and safety experience that had been instilled in me so many years ago. I have continued this passion with the incredible fortune to share experiences, love and respect of the water with my family. This journey has taken us from Kentucky, to the east and west coasts, the British and US Virgin Islands, the Caribbean, and all the way to the Red Sea in Egypt. Needless to say, the Y expanded my life. It provided me the experience and knowledge to explore the world and live life, learn, teach, enjoy and share those experiences, just as they were shared with me so many years ago."

No longer running her business, and enjoying a new season of life in Lexington, it only seemed natural that Bobbi would make her way back to a YMCA. Though her focus is not in aquatics, the appreciation for all that the Y does is still front and center for her.

"There is so much I love about my present day Y.  I’m absolutely thrilled to see the smiles on peoples' faces when I process their financial aid memberships, knowing it’s going to make a huge impact on their family and the opportunities and experiences opening up for them. 

I love our senior members…I’ve developed so many 'Y friendships'; no one knows what you go through until you’re a senior yourself. We tell endless stories of our trials, triumphs and adventures of getting through life. And even more important to us…sharing our kids' accomplishments and photos, and comparing their stories. It gives us a commonality the younger members can’t yet share, and we laugh and love updating each other whenever we are at the Y. We share the most difficult times as well; we are there for each other."

Having a community who was ready to be there for her was critical for Bobbi when she was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago. "I put up a brave front, but having lost my mom to the same disease, it was a lot to deal with. I found myself alone, sad and afraid - but the Y changed that. I look so forward to coming to work, being around my co-workers and members, and feeling part of yet another big adventure. They helped me celebrate my five-year cancer survival date which meant so much. The Y is definitely my happy place."

We're so fortunate to have Bobbi on our team, helping members and participants with kindness and openness of mind. Bobbi is always happy to jump in and help, and always has a kind word to offer. She still stays active - walking her beloved 180-lb Great Dane three to four miles a day, three times per day! "I love just hanging out with him, reading a book or just cuddling and napping. He makes me feel loved and wanted."

Thank you for sharing your story, Bobbi! We love celebrating your past, the many milestones you've had while at the Y, and the ways you make our community brighter now.


We love putting a spotlight on our amazing team - if you know someone who deserves a shout out or spotlight, let us know! Email us at marketing@ymcacky.org

O'Neil,Bobbi YMCA of Central KY