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Dedication and ribbon cutting celebrate opening of innovative new Mary Free Bed YMCA

Mary Free Bed YMCA Ribbon Cutting

[Click for a photo album from the ribbon-cutting event.]

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – December 3, 2015 – The Mary Free Bed YMCA is the first health and wellness facility in the world specifically designed to equally serve all individuals regardless of ability. An inaugural lap around the new indoor track was made by community members of all ages and abilities during the dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids at 10 am on Thursday, Dec. 3.

“Today’s celebration culminates years of commitment by dedicated volunteers, staff and community leaders. This pioneering new environment, based on Universal Design, enables people of all abilities to experience a fully-accessible health and wellness facility,” said Ron Nelson, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids. “An extraordinary amount of work has gone into the development of this unique building, and we can’t wait to share it with West Michigan.”

“As part of our 125th anniversary, the Mary Free Bed Guild is honored to collaborate with the Y for the benefit of our patients, athletes and the greater community,” said Kim Ridings, Guild President. “It’s long been our dream to have a facility where people with disabilities could exercise and play side-by-side with their able-bodied friends and families. This amazing building will be home to our Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports program and we’ll also provide outpatient therapy here.”

In addition to Nelson, Ridings, and other Y leaders, several notable speakers participated in the dedication of the new facility, including State of Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, Burton Blatt Institute Chairman Peter Blanck, and Carol Van Andel, Executive Director of the David and Carol Van Andel Family Foundation. 

This 116,200-square-foot, $31 million facility is situated on a 36-acre campus on the southwest corner of Kraft Avenue and Burton Street SE. The LEED-certified and fully-accessible facility includes two-and-half gymnasiums, two pools, two group fitness and indoor cycling studios, an indoor track, climbing wall, state-of-the-art fitness equipment, wheelchair softball field, tennis courts, baseball and soccer fields, a greenhouse, teaching kitchen, learning farm and access to the Rapid Bus line.

A community open house will be held from 11 am-4 pm on Saturday, Dec. 5. The Mary Free Bed YMCA will be open for business at 7 am on Monday, Dec. 7. For additional information, visit www.grymca.org.

 About the Y
The Y is West Michigan’s leading nonprofit strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Through its various branches, including Camp Manitou-Lin, community outreach programs, as well as child care sites, the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids is committed to improving the health and well-being of children and families. Y programs impact thousands of lives annually and respond to unique community needs across West Michigan. Visit grymca.org.

 About the Mary Free Bed Guild
In 1891, a small group of Grand Rapids women, concerned about healthcare for the needy, embarked on a fundraising effort. They asked anyone named Mary, or anyone who knew someone named Mary, to donate a dime. Because Mary was the most popular female name at the time, the group soon raised enough money to endow a bed at a local hospital, which became known as the “Mary free bed.” What began as a single bed to serve the needy is now a vibrant, innovative and growing organization which offers the most comprehensive rehabilitation services in Michigan. Visit maryfreebed.com.

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