The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
For the Matuszewski Family, their journey began in 2014 with son Kaden joining the YMCA swim team at age 10.
“He has vision complications that make it hard for him to participate in sports that are offered at school,” Kaden’s mother Angie explained.
Living in Laona, Wis., about an hour away from Iron Mountain, the Matuszewski Family lacked access to a pool close to home.
“We knew it would involve a lot of time and sacrifice to make it possible for him to swim,” Matuszewski said. “But we decided to give it a try and make it work.”
That single decision to sign Kaden up for swim team opened more doors than the family could ever imagine. Kaden’s sister Kailey, 8, also joined the swim team – quickly falling in love with the sport – and even qualifying for state competition in two strokes. Kaden’s swimming, confidence and friendships have grown by leaps and bounds, and he recently completed his second 5K run.
The family’s connection to the YMCA only grew stronger from there. Matuszewski and her husband Matt both started taking advantage of the opportunities at the Y.
“We both started in the same place,” she explained. “We were not very active, out of shape and really didn’t know how to swim beyond a doggy paddle. We didn’t know anything about cycling, and we had very little confidence in our abilities.”
Taking those first few small steps, the Matuszewskis signed up for a cycling class then an adult lap swim class. From barely being able to swim 25 yards, only able to run one to two minutes at a time and knowing nothing about cycling, the duo has now both successfully completed a triathlon and multiple 5Ks.
“None of this would have happened had we not signed up our son for the swim team,” Matuszewski said. “Every minute and every mile it takes us to get to the Northern Lights YMCA has been well worth it. And the icing on the cake has been the great friends we have gained from joining the Y.”
The quote and inspiration from Lao Tzu has guided the family during their Y journey.
“If the struggles you’re facing seem too big, take small steps. If the dreams seem unattainable and the distance to get there too vast, take small steps,” Matuszewski said. “Anything is possible. Take one small step, then build on it with another, and so on. Keep stepping and one day you will turn around and find that you’ve traveled miles from where you once were. Your goals and aspirations are only small steps away.”
Matuszewski hopes her family’s story can inspire others to join and become connected at the Y.
“Stop thinking about it and do it,” she said. “You have so much to gain. There’s something for everyone, at every age and at every level. You will have endless support from instructors, coaches and the great staff, as well as fellow members who have been or currently are in your same shoes. After joining, you will wonder why you waited so long to join in the first place.”
With expansion on the horizon, Matuszewski sees only positive things happening with a new and improved Y.
“It would be such an asset to the community,” she said. “It would provide more access to more programs to a larger population, exponentially attracting more people – including out of town families like us. It would be such a positive force toward bettering the health and well-being of the community and its members.”