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The Suburbanite
  • Eric Snow donates $1 million for new downtown YMCA

  • Two former professional athletes kidded each other Wednesday as they delivered a serious message to help kick off the $500,000 community fundraising effort for a new downtown YMCA.

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  • Two former professional athletes kidded each other Wednesday as they delivered a serious message to help kick off the $500,000 community fundraising effort for a new downtown YMCA.
    Eric Snow, a former NBA player who went to Michigan State University, and Chris Spielman, an NFL player who went to Ohio State University, had a little fun with each other at the event.
    But the day belonged to Snow, as he presented a check for $1 million as part of the funding for the organization where he learned basketball on his way to becoming a star at McKinley High School. The facility will be named the Eric Snow YMCA.
    “Ohio State didn’t offer me a scholarship. That’s why I didn’t go there,” Snow told Spielman.
    Spielman, a standout at Washington High School, whose father coached at Timken High, where the event was held, told Snow, “What a good strong safety you would have made.”
    Spielman said Snow was a role model for others, “not only in his words, but in his actions. I do believe in what the YMCA’s mission is all about,” he said.
    “That’s what I’m all about.”
    The ethic in Stark County is that, “the definition of wealth is not how much we have, but how much we can give,” Spielman said.
    Snow said he didn’t realize the value of the downtown YMCA until he was older. “I though it was someplace you went in the summer when school was out.”
    But he learned life lessons about mentoring others during his NBA career, he said. “It was about helping someone else. It was about teaching someone else.”
    That’s the value of the downtown YMCA, he said. “When you have those opportunities in the center of town, that’s when good things happen.”
    YMCA Community Program Director Mike Brown said the new YMCA would create a lasting memory of Snow in downtown Canton.
    “This whole thing started with the idea of a hometown hero leaving a legacy, not only for himself, but for his children,” Brown said.
    The fundraising goal is $4.9 million, and $3.2 million has already been raised, including Snow’s contribution, about $700,000 in federal funding and money from local foundations and individual donors, said Tim Shetzer, chief executive officer of the YMCA of Central Stark County.
    Shetzer said the community campaign goal is $500,000, and the YMCA hopes to get the rest in grants and other funding.
    The new, 26,000-square-foot YMCA will be built at the site of the existing one at McKinley Avenue and Second Street NW, after the building that was closed in 2008 is demolished. The target opening time is fall 2013.
    “We’re close,” said YMCA Board Chairman Joe Schauer. “We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” he said. “We’re hoping to see shovels in the ground by this summer.”