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7Everyday Hero: YMCA volunteer helps thousands of families

Posted at 8:02 AM, Nov 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-26 10:02:30-05

DENVER — There was a YMCA in Denver even before Colorado was a state. It had only 16 members. Today, the YMCA helps to enrich the lives of tens of thousands of people. 

And the Aurora YMCA can do this without walls. 

"We don't have an actual brick and mortar facility here in Aurora," said volunteer Craig Wagner. "But we have more than 35 programs for kids and families in area schools and churches."

One of those programs combines the efforts of the Aurora Family YMCA and the Rotary Club. 

"We are here at Yale Elementary School for the Peaceful Schools Program," Wagner said. 

The program relies on volunteers like Wagner to visit schools to help equip young students with skills to help prevent bullying. 

"I think that the Y really does make a difference in a lot of kids' lives, a lot of families' lives," he said. 

Wagner has been a YMCA volunteer for almost 40 years. He started giving his time at the Littleton Y and has since gone on to help the Aurora Family YMCA. 

"He has always (been) there," said Kimberly Armitage, executive director of the YMCA. "He has raised more than $250,000 for the Aurora branch."  

James Bickford, chairman of the Board for the Aurora Family YMCA, said Wagner is the guy you can go to for advice He's a friendly face and a friendly helping hand, he said. 

Wagner has had such a positive impact on families, he was inducted into the YMCA Hall of Fame. 

"The more cheer and happiness that you can bring to someone else generally brings yourself happiness too," said Wagner. 

To learn more about the Aurora Family YMCA, click here

Mitch Jelniker anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. He also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Mitch on Facebook here and Twitter here. Nominate a 7Everyday Hero here.