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Spring 2010

Directors Message: BRLS 2010 - It’s All About Leadership BRLS 2010 is almost here. As we all enthusiastically say together every morning, “It’s all about Leadership!!”BRLS 2010 will continue to strive to build leadership and volunteerism for local YMCAs. This year’s program will focus on the quality of our curriculum. It is a message that the entire School Leadership Team will be using as a “mantra” for all areas of the School. There have been limited major changes in the overall curriculum requirements, so the focus on deepening the quality of the curriculum comes at an opportune time. Our partnership with the YMCA of the USA continues allowing us to offer national certifications to eligible Leaders. We will be one of the first groups in the country to see the new Jr. Lifeguard curriculum and that has been added to our course list, including a certification option. Our commitment to healthy lifestyles will continue as we study the latest information on healthy lifestyle trends for our youth, seniors, and staff. The YMCA Activate America program at the local and national levels continues to pick up momentum and we have the opportunity for our young people to be some of the most effective role models of this work that exist within the YMCA Movement. We have been both frustrated and delighted by the fact that the School filled up earlier than ever. Although we are feverishly working on the waiting list now, the list had approached nearly 200 Leaders. In the months following the 2010 School, we will be having serious conversations on ways we can meet the growing demand for participation. Your thoughts are always welcome. We are again expecting over 800 in this year’s School. A special highlight (and a FIRST for BRLS as far as we know) this year will be a visit from the YMCA of the USA National Executive Director, Neil Nicoll! You may be aware that in 2009, we had two other top leaders of the National Movement visit the School…Terri Radcliff, Y-USA National Leadership Development Director, and Kent Johnson, Y-USA Chief Operating Officer (yes, he’s the number two person in the Movement). So, the YMCA of the USA is very aware of our work! 1c

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We look forward to the continuation of the AA college scholarship program which provides a $1000 college scholarship to a deserving high school senior participating in the School. If you have not made a donation to that fund, please consider doing so directly through the AA. You’re always welcome to contact me – Thank you for your support of the Blue Ridge Leaders School through your involvement in the Alumni Association. Lastly, here is an excerpt from an email that I received in late April from one of this year’s Honor Leaders, Abby Van Horn: “Another reason for this email is that I was just, today actually, awarded a $10,000 scholarship from the State Employees' Credit Union of North Carolina. The scholarship was based on community service, leadership and integrity. I credit Blue Ridge and Leaders' Club for getting me the scholarship because I would not have been the person I am today without either of them. I wanted to thank you for the opportunity to serve as an Honor Leader at this year's school and with that, being able to create a vespers on integrity. This gave me an opportunity to discover my own personal definition of integrity and changes the things in my life in order to live a life of integrity. I was able to successfully express to the scholarship committee what integrity meant to me and how I showed integrity in my own life, that otherwise I would not have been able to express to the panel.” It’s all about Leadership. Steve Tarver, Director, Blue Ridge Leaders School (CEO – YMCA of Greater Louisville)

BRLS AA Scholarship

The old fashioned way, send a check to: Robert N. Rosenstein, OD, FAAO Rosenstein Vision Center 2901 North Duke Street Durham, North Carolina 27704-2623

It is that time again, for me to raise funds for the 2010 Blue Ridge Leaders School Alumni Association Scholarship Fund.

Or if you want to use PayPal simply email Tom Whortan and tell him how much you plan to give and that you want to use PayPal. Tom will send you a PayPal invoice that will come directly from him since the AA is still working on setting up PayPal. For complete transparency he will copy you on the transaction when he sends your funds to the AA.

Currently that scholarship is a one year scholarship for $1000 awarded to a graduating senior, attending the school the year of the award who is a counselor or honor leader.

Tom Whortan, Executive Director Southeast Family YMCA 5930 Six Mile Lane Louisville, KY 40218 (502) 491-9622

You have two options for payment. 2c

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The Camp Nurse by: Stephanie Torrens, BSN, RNII My youth was filled with attending an annual YMCA leadership camp. The camp is called Blue Ridge and is held at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mt., North Carolina. The camp has been very dear to me and has in many ways helped me to be who I am today. It has taught me leadership skills and about the importance of giving back to one’s community. I recently within the past several years had gotten reconnected with the Mountain. I have served as secretary for the alumni association since 2006 and in 2009 was appointed chair of the AA.

Sport Quotes Remember that hill? Here are some sport quotes to help motivate you up your hills!

On Thursday June 4th, 2009, I received an e-mail from the director of the school, and Executive Director of the Louisville YMCA, Steve Tarver. A desperate plea for help was noted in the words I began to read. Apparently, the medical team they had used for the past several years had to bail out on them leaving them with no medical coverage for the week of Leader’s School. In his e-mail he stated, “I know this is a long shot, but is there any way you are able to help us with medical coverage for the week?” An excitement overcame me that I could help, a chance to finally volunteer and give back to a camp that had given me so much. Thanks to several of my outpatient clinics being cancelled already that week-I was able to find coverage for myself for the one clinic I had left. After coverage was secured I was in the free and clear to offer my nursing services to the leader’s school.

You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy. -- Arthur Ashe Victory belongs to the most perserving. -- Napoleon Success isn’t something that just happens - success is learning, success is practiced and then it is shared. -- Sparky Anderson Character is that which reveals moral purpose, exposing the class of things a man chooses or avoids. -- Aristotle

Steve obtained 2 other nurses veterans Suzanne Pfefferle and Bryan McPherson, EMT and former honor leader Matt Lewis, and New Orleans ER Physcian Peter Deblieux all former leaders and alumni of BRLS. We all worked together to cover the various injuries and accidents that presented. We each brought a certain specialty to the mix which gave us great coverage for the campers.

Adversity causes some men to break, and others to break records. -- Source Unknown 3c

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Alumni Notes

(The Camp Nurse, continued from page 3)

I had never worked as a camp nurse before so I was quite excited about the opportunity. The week was by no means injury free but we were also not inundated with major accidents. The campers and staff were greatly appreciative of our services. We set up shop in one of the offices in Lee Hall. We removed many splinters, and took care of several bee stings. We sent two campers to the ER, both with flag football injuries, one with a dislocated pinky and another with a fractured ankle. We must have given out 20-30 ice bags a day and wrapped ankles and knees from morning until night. One of the school legends, Mr. Phil; who was on staff when I was a leader looked at me mid-week and said, “You’ve Come Full Circle”. I smiled and nodded because… I guess in a sense he was right!!

Steven Adair, the Green Hills YMCA Leaders’ Club Advisor in Nashville, TN, graduated in May from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a BS in Business Administration in Marketing. Ann Councill Brown, James L. Camp Jr. YMCA, graduated from the University of Virginia in 2007 after completing two years of mission work with the Mormon Church. She was married in June 2007 and currently resides in St. Louis M.O. with her husband and 15 month old son Owen. Ann’s favorite BRLS memories include playing volleyball with the Dableaux’s, back rubs on the hill, the can-can down Lee Hall steps and enjoying the view of the mountain from Lee Hall’s rocking chairs. Amelia Denise Clifford, Cowart Family Ashford Dunwood YMCA, G.A., 2005, is recently engaged to James Ostenson. They will be married in April in Amelia’s hometown Atlanta G.A.

the medical crew at BRLS

Allison and Mohammed Coovadia, Durham Family YMCA, N.C., 1995, with their daughter Malina, welcomed their second daughter, Leilani on March 26th.

Facebook Stats:

Holly Johnson, Bessemer Area YMCA, A.L., HL,1996, along with her family welcome their third child, Jonah Lyric Johnson in September 2009. Holly has been a member of BRLS Staff since 1996 working in Fitness and Aquatics and currently works with the Charlotte YMCA in N.C.

593 Fans: 41% Male, 58% Female Top Cities: Tamps (57), Raleigh (36), Louisville (33), Atlanta (32), Charlotte (27)

Dayne Murray, 2007 Honor Leader, is now the Lead Field Engineer for In Vessel Inspections at GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy in Wilmington, N.C.

Top Countries: USA (577), Canada (4), Germany (2), United Kingdom (2), Kuwait (2)

Nicole Shoup, Durham Family YMCA, 1996, along with her husband BJ and sons Jack and Drew, expect their third child, a baby girl, at the end of June.


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Our club has adopted the three main principles that we hear "on the mountain," Leaders lead, Leaders are fit, and Leaders are aware of their decisions.

Alumni Passings Eddie Wortman was born and grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. He swam competitively and participated in Judo, but his favorite sport was gymnastics.

We serve locally through many forms of volunteer events including, but not limited to, cheering on and serving water to walkers/ runners at many local races. We serve our local YMCA through special events along with hosting our own events such as an end of the school year dance to raise funds for our building strong kids campaign. We were also able to hit our goal of raising over $2000 for the campaign.  

As a senior in high school Eddie won the Orleans Parish Public School All-Around Gymnastics Championship and competed for the National YMCA Championship New Orleans-Lee Circle YMCA Gymnastics Team. While a competitive gymnast Eddie also assisted in teaching both boys and girls gymnastics classes as a Leader at the Lee Circle YMCA. Eddie married Tanya in 1985. Ryan, their oldest daughter, was born the following year, and in 1989 they moved to Tampa to work at the Interbay-Glover YMCA. Their second daughter, Chandler, was born in 2001.

This year is a special year for us on the mountain since we have an Honor Leader, Spencer Smud, serving at BRLS, we are so proud of him. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to serve these amazing young people and to be used by God on a daily basis to be his hands and feet and guide these Leaders for a better tomorrow.

Eddie enjoyed teaching and coaching. Though he began going to Blue Ridge Leaders’ School with his family when he was only four years old, for over 27 years he served on the BRLS staff to volunteer his time to coach and teach. Eddie was awarded the prestigious Paul Grist Award in 2008 for his service to BRLS. In his role as Gymnastics and Special Needs Coordinator at the Interbay-Glover YMCA, Eddie taught and coached children of all ages and abilities. Beginners, National Champions, or children with disabilities, Eddie showed his caring and patience with each. The gymnastics room at the Interbay-Glover Branch of the Tampa YMCA now carries his name as the Eddie Wortman Gymnastics Area.

Mindy Anderson Campo Family YMCA Tampa, Florida

Though Eddie’s technical knowledge of gymnastics biomechanics was high, it was his personal interest in each child that won the hearts of those he touched. Some have even termed him, “the gentle giant.” Florida AAU Gymnasts has named their annual scholarship for senior gymnasts the Eddie Wortman Florida AAU Senior Gymnastics Scholarship. This scholarship award is a tribute to his life and his dedication to children.

Blue Ridge Leaders School Alumni Association



June 17-19, 2011

Campo Family YMCA I feel privileged to be the advisor of the Campo Family YMCA Leaders Club in Tampa, Florida. I started our club about seven years ago and have hit the ground running ever since.

Contact Gaby Casebonne for additional information at 5c

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Remembering Eddie Wortman A CELEBRATION OF LIFE - NEW ORLEANS, by Gaby Caseboone

April, 17, 2010 “Just a closer walk with thee …” began playing slowly. It was a seven piece brass band that led the group assembled out in the street in front of the house through the gate way and into the beautiful back yard area. The band moved with the slow side to side sway and shuffle so traditional with a jazz funeral procession. It was then that my emotions hit me – not sadness, but seeing the people around us and the realization that our family had truly grown into an extended family composed of caring individuals that had become so integrated into our lives over the years … that this extended family had come together to share the joy of Eddie’s life and were there helping us in his passing from one life to another with God … that we were so, so blessed to be included as part of their lives and they as part of ours. Glasses were raised in tribute to Eddie as the procession moved on into the back yard and around the pool area. The band stopped playing. Several people spoke. Balloons were released. Then the band broke into “When the Saints Come Marching In” and everyone grabbed a large white napkin and began marching and sashaying around the pool twirling the white napkin over their head. It was truly a celebration of life. We had gathered at Dennis and Suzanne Pfefferle’s home during the early evening. Almost 100 people were there celebrating Eddie’s life. Some came from far way. Some hadn’t been reunited with the group for over 30 years. Emails and phone calls had come from those who couldn’t make it. The caring, binding love that transcends time and brings families together could be felt by everyone. Smiles, tears, laughter, hugs, kisses, pats on backs, stories told, memories relived … it was a fantastic, heartwarming and joyful experience. That’s what Eddie wanted … and as one of his close friends said as he closed and looked to the heavens. “Welcome to your celebration, Ed!” Eddie, Phil, Gail and I were part of an extraordinary time period during our twenty years in New Orleans. We came there in 1961 … Phil had been born and Gail was pregnant with Eddie. Some of those present remembered those times … remembered Eddie when he was born. Eddie knew New Orleans as his home. It, his friends, and our extended family were deeply embedded in his heart. We are sincerely appreciative of all everyone did to make this celebration such a wonderful occasion! It was a memorable day with those we love. Tanya, Ryan and Chandler understood the special relationship Eddie had with New Orleans and joined Phil, Kelly, Seth, Kinsley, Gail and I as some of Eddie’s ashes were placed in the ground Saturday morning at Lee Circle directly across from where the YMCA had been. No, the Y isn’t there any longer, nor is Eddie with us now – but, he is here in spirit, and the wonderful times shared with Eddie at the Lee Circle YMCA and with our extended family will be with us forever. Amen! 6c

Mountain Top Spring 2010  
Mountain Top Spring 2010  

Newsletter Spring 2010