The YMCA has been Wayne McPike's home away from home for 30 years
The YMCA has been Wayne McPike’s home away from home for 30 years.
This Hannibal native grew up going to the Hannibal YMCA, an agency of United Way, every Monday and Wednesday night as a kid while his dad played on a men’s league basketball team. McPike loved going to the Y and wanted nothing more than to be there as much as possible.
“I couldn’t go to the Y unless my homework was done,” shared McPike. The YMCA became his safe place where he would discover his life’s passion.
“If I wasn’t out playing with friends, I was at the YMCA,” he said.
The 35-year-old McPike said his life would’ve been a struggle without the YMCA. While watching his dad at the age of five from the sidelines, McPike found his love and passion for basketball. He grew up on the basketball court at the Y after school and on the weekends. McPike ended up playing basketball in college down the street from the Y at Hannibal LaGrange University while earning a degree in recreation management.
He didn’t know the YMCA would show him his true passion and transform his life.
McPike while in college during 2005 started working at the YMCA in the Wellness Room. Since he spent so much time there, it was only logical that he ended up working there, he said.
He kept his position in the Wellness Room until he became a camp counselor the summer of 2007 when a summer youth program began at the YMCA.
McPike remembers those early days of the now well-known Summer Adventure Camp.
“There were just four of us as staff working the camp and around 40 kids,” he said. McPike found his passion for helping children through Summer Adventure Camp. He found it rewarding to encourage and help shape children to become the best versions of themselves.
McPike is still greeted by big smiles and waves by kids who attend camp. McPike spent his time as a camp counselor each summer between 2007 and 2017 at the YMCA leading activities, taking kids on field trips, and becoming a great mentor to groups of kids.
“Wayne was always willing to go the extra mile,” said Pete Friesen, the former CEO of the Hannibal YMCA who got to watch McPike grow up. “If we needed someone to dress up as a mascot, Wayne never complained about it or tried to pawn it off, in fact he played the part to the fullest.”
The humble beginnings of 40 children at camp grew. Today, more than 130 kids attend Summer Adventure Camp each year with over 20 staff pulling off all the fun kids get to experience during the summer.
“Wayne was one of the first employees I met when I arrived in May of 2015,” said Eric Abts, the current CEO of the Hannibal YMCA. “He was a camp counselor, nicknamed “Noodles” and I’ll never forget how warm and engaging he was when he introduced himself.”
That warm demeanor and skillset he learned at the YMCA became the framework for his career. McPike now works as a Community Support Specialist at Mark Twain Behavioral Health where he mentors and supports troubled adolescent boys. Without the Hannibal YMCA, he would have never gained the passion and experience to work in this field.
“A lot of the time you don’t know what the kids are going through, but you help them any way you can,” McPike said.
McPike joined the Board of Directors at the YMCA in 2017. He now guides and directs the organization that shaped his life. “I now feel like I can give back,” he said.
The Hannibal YMCA will benefit from the 2019-20 United Way GIVE HOPE Campaign. McPike, like many individuals, received great hope and a great future from this United Way affiliated organization.