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BLOOMINGTON — Plans for a new, larger Bloomington-Normal YMCA building, to include Easterseals Central Illinois on the OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center campus, got a vote of confidence Tuesday with the announcement of a $4 million gift.

The gift is from a Bloomington-Normal family who has chosen to remain anonymous at this time, YMCA Executive Director B.J. Wilken said.

But the donation is a challenge gift. To receive the $4 million, the YMCA must raise $4 million by Dec. 31, Wilken said.

The organization has raised another $2.2 million toward the goal. That means, community donors must give another $1.8 million for the $4 million gift to be received, Wilken said.

"I'm absolutely stunned and incredibly grateful that this family would come forward with this gift to the YMCA," Wilken said.

The gift would be the largest in the history of the Bloomington-Normal YMCA, he said.

"This is exciting news for a very special, impactful collaboration that will tremendously benefit our community," said Chad Boore, CEO of OSF HealthCare's Eastern Region. "Further, this gift validates the vision of the YMCA, Easterseals and OSF HealthCare to come together in designing and constructing a new facility that will be accessible for all."

YMCA announced in April that it hopes to move from its longtime home south of downtown Bloomington, 602 S. Main St., to a new, 70,000-square-foot  building on the St. Joseph campus, 2200 E. Washington St., Bloomington. The proposed building would front Washington Street with St. Joseph Drive and the medical center to the north and OSF's planned medical office building to the west.

OSF donated six acres of land valued at $3 million, Boore said.

But, for the building to be built, the YMCA must raise another $13 million, Wilken said in April. Including the $4 million challenge gift, another $4.4 million must be raised before construction can begin.

"To date, we have raised $11.6 million from 51 donors" including the challenge gift and the land donation, Wilken said Tuesday.

"Ideally, we would like to be complete with fundraising by spring 2019," Wilken said. Wilken said in April that he hopes to begin construction in fall 2019 and open at the new location in spring 2021.

The YMCA has outgrown its existing 40,000-square-foot building, which is not completely wheelchair-accessible, is land-locked and can't be expanded, Wilken said.

In addition to larger YMCA facilities, the planned building would include leased space for Easterseals to relocate its therapy and counseling programs from 2404 E. Empire St., Bloomington, said Easterseals Central Illinois CEO Steve Thompson.

"This gift is a huge boost to the campaign and a huge vote of confidence in the project," Thompson said.

Fundraising campaign co-chairs are Julie Dobski and Steve Snyder.

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.

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


Health Reporter

Health reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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