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BLOOMINGTON — Bloomington-Normal YMCA has met two challenge gifts in its fundraising for a new, larger building to include Easterseals Central Illinois, meaning the proposed building on the OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center campus is another step closer to reality.

"I'm ecstatic," YMCA Executive Director B.J. Wilken told The Pantagraph on Friday. "I'm humbled by our donors and grateful for the support this project has received from the community."

"We have 106 donors to the campaign and that represents $13,401,733," Wilken said. "Our goal is $16 million.

"We've committed to not putting a shovel in the ground until we reach that goal." 

Wilken said when the project was announced in April 2018, he hoped construction would begin in fall 2019 and open in spring 2021.

The location for the proposed 70,000-square-foot building is on the St. Joseph campus, 2200 E. Washington St., Bloomington. It would front Washington Street with St. Joseph Drive and the medical center to the north and OSF's under-construction medical office building to the west.

OSF donated six acres of land valued at $3 million to the YMCA.

"OSF continues to be excited by the fundraising progress of the Y and Easterseals for the new facility on the OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center campus," said Chad Boore, OSF HealthCare Eastern Region CEO.

"The community's support of this initiative is overwhelming and speaks volumes to the power of collaboration," Boore said. "OSF looks forward to this project coming to fruition and the positive impact it will have on the communities we serve."

The first challenge gift, announced in September, was $4 million from a Bloomington-Normal family who has chosen to remain anonymous. That gift asked the community to match the $4 million by Dec. 31.

Then, in October, Dr. Jerry Oakey, an orthopedic surgeon, and his wife, Dr. Laura Randolph, a plastic surgeon, supporters of the YMCA and Easterseals, pledged to match contributions to the building project from fellow health care providers, up to $200,000.

Both challenges have been met, Wilken said, thanks in part to 12 donors who gave at the end of the year.

Steve Thompson, Easterseals Central Illinois CEO, said he was "elated" the challenges have been met and said it's indicative of the support the project has in the community. "This is a YMCA project but we (Easterseals) will benefit and the community will benefit," he said.

YMCA announced in April that wanted to move from its longtime home south of downtown Bloomington, 602 S. Main St., to a larger building on the St. Joseph campus.

Project supporters have said the YMCA has outgrown its 40,000-square-foot building that was built in 1971, is landlocked and can't be expanded.

When asked by The Pantagraph in April about the YMCA moving farther from Bloomington's west and south sides, project supporters said that people in need live throughout the Bloomington-Normal area.

The proposed building — in addition to larger, updated YMCA facilities — would include leased space for Easterseals to relocate its therapy and counseling programs from 2404 E. Empire St., Bloomington.

The next step is the fundraising campaign's public phase that will kick off May 3, Wilken said.

"With these challenges met, the path to success is clear and we look forward to the public phase of the campaign," said Thompson.

Contact Paul Swiech at (309) 820-3275. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_swiech

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Health Reporter

Health reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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