Living a healthy lifestyle is extremely important in this day and age. Making a few changes in your normal day-to-day life can extend your time on the earth by years. A big way to do this is preventative care. Danny Gonzalez, the health and wellness coordinator for the Portage YMCA from St Mary’s, is focused on helping the community get healthy and stay healthy.
The members of the Portage YMCA are fortunate to have Gonzalez watching over them for the past eight years as they work hard to maintain the healthy lifestyle practices he instills. It’s not just about working out and eating better though. Gonzalez is at the YMCA to help foster a sense of community. He works tirelessly to build trustworthy relationships with members.
“Over the years, I’ve had opportunities to develop programs. So, I get to knock on the doors of the school systems and there were opportunities for them to have me come in and teach a Childhood obesity program to the third graders.” Gonzalez explained passionately.
Gonzalez makes it no secret that children are the future. According to the Center for Disease Control, childhood obesity affects one in five of school-age children from the ages six to nine. So, Gonzalez has a focus on preventative care and healthy living and tries to bring that message to as many people as will listen. Roaming the halls of the YMCA, Gonzalez seems to know every member that walks through the doors. The rhetoric about fostering relationships with the community is not just for show, Gonzalez backs it all up tenfold.
“With time, with experience, with being able to build trust, I’ve been granted the opportunity to serve my community… Serving my community makes my day-to-day life purposeful. Growing up in a household where my parents instilled morals and faith-based practices lead me to want to serve others. Now, I’m able to fill those shoes that they once did, but create my own path.”
As Gonzalez spoke, his focus never wavered from wanting to help the community. He remained humble and shied away from taking the lion's share of credit for any project or initiative. In 2015, Gonzalez was officiating a basketball game at the YMCA when he was called to the Cardio center at the facility. A member had passed out and was having a heart attack. Gonzalez initiated CPR and used a portable defibrillator to stabilize the member until EMS arrived. Even speaking about this event Gonzalez shrugs off his heroic act.
“Let’s find a way to give back and invest into our youth,” Gonzalez said. “Affecting others is eventually going to come back around. If we can influence healthy living, then everyone wants to do it, everyone feels encouraged, and so it would be gratifying for me to see my own son grow up during this strong movement of healthy living.”
Gonzalez may be known officially as the health and wellness coordinator at the Portage YMCA, but around the community, he is known as much more. He is considered family to most that wander the halls looking for an open treadmill or basketball court.