Ashland Area YMCA Steps Up to the Challenge

Ashland Area YMCA Steps Up to the Challenge

Sasha Bush

The Ashland Beacon


   The Ashland Area YMCA is no stranger to bringing awareness to the community about cancer. This year, the Ashland Area YMCA is hosting its first ever 200-Mile Cancer Challenge. Julie Vinson, Training and Community Outreach Specialist at the Ashland Area YMCA, shared with us just how this event came to be, “Missy, our Membership and Marketing Director, saw a post from the American Cancer Society that they were doing 62 miles in the month of August for cancer awareness. She told me about it. Four years ago, I started a cancer fund at the Y to help raise awareness and to support the members of our community going through cancer. In September, we would have a Lymphoma one-mile walk to raise awareness about Lymphoma and in October, we would raise money for breast cancer awareness. This year, I wanted to focus on all cancers. Instead of 62 miles, I wanted to make it bigger and last for three months. 200 miles in three months.” 

   Vinson went on to add, “Five years ago, I was diagnosed with Mediastinal Lymphoma. My husband and I traveled to Cleveland Clinic every two weeks and stayed in the hospital for a week at a time while I received chemotherapy.  The Ashland Area YMCA came together and did a benefit two years in a row for my family to raise money and help us with medical and travel expenses. Not only did the Y raise money, the community (people I didn’t even know) donated money to help my family. We couldn’t believe the generosity and outpouring of love from our community and our family at the Y. We are so grateful for all their support. We never got to say thank you to all those we never met! I started this fund because it is our turn to give back to our community. The Ashland Area Y has given away gas cards to those that have to travel back and forth for treatments. Every year because of generous donations, we can give away two free Family Health Center memberships to families that are going through or have gone through the ugly disease of cancer. Anyone can donate to our cancer fund at any time.” Vinson is truly a very vital asset to not only the Ashland Area YMCA but to the community as well. Through her strong faith in God, love of the YMCA and compassion to help others, Vinson has touched the hearts of so many with her own battle and victory over cancer.

   The 200-Mile Cancer Challenge Walk kicked off on September 1, 2022. “You can walk, run, or bike your 200 miles by November 30.  It can be indoors or outdoors. The cost is $20 to enter, and they will receive either a T-shirt or a muscle tank top. They will get a magnet with their name that they can move on the magnet wall as they complete each mile. We have left a section on the registration form to add who they are doing this challenge in honor of. Next to the magnet wall, we have a wall with all the names of people each individual is doing this challenge in honor of,” shared Vinson. With the original goal of this challenge being to raise $1,000 during the three-month challenge, Vinson was excited to share, “The Goal Was to raise $1,000 in three months to give to a family in our community going through cancer and in less than two weeks, we have already raised $2,200! Wow!” Currently, the 200-Mile Cancer Walk Challenge has close to a hundred participant’s signed up. 

   The 200-Mile Cancer Challenge doesn’t end until November 30, so there is still plenty of time for anyone who would like to step up to this challenge to do so. There is no limit as to how many people can sign up for this event and anyone can sign up regardless of age. Those that do will receive a free T-shirt or muscle tank top. “We want everyone to know that the Ashland Area Y is a family, and we want to support our community in any way that we can. We aren’t just a gym; we are a family! I also hope through this challenge that we can triple our goal and truly bless a family in our community. We will be donating two Family Health Center memberships to two families that have gone through cancer treatments in the last 24 months by the end of this year” stated Vinson. If you would like to nominate a family in need, please email Julie Vinson at

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