Gordon Hershberger

My wife, Kaye, was a compassionate and caring woman who spent countless hours volunteering for many community organizations. She was especially devoted to the YMCA and was instrumental in bringing YMCA programming, particularly for young mothers, to Syracuse’s northern suburbs. In addition to being a member of the North Area Family YMCA building committee and its board of directors, she also served as a program coordinator and chair of its women’s committee. Being very hands-on, she was willing to take on whatever task was needed to ensure day-to-day operations at the branch ran smoothly. I know that Kaye’s passion and commitment played a vital role in making the North Area Family YMCA what it is today.

While Kaye was bravely fighting breast cancer, we frequently heard stories of other women facing  similar battles. Oftentimes, these women were also single mothers or facing the challenge without a caregiver. Many struggled to care for their children while also trying to get to healthcare appointments, sustain a steady income and maintain a home. Kaye and I both decided that we wanted to help these women access quality healthcare so that they can continue to be there for their families into the future.

Sadly, my loving wife Kaye lost her cancer battle in 2009. In her memory, our family established the Kathleen Sill Hoffman Hershberger Memorial Fund at the Central New York Community Foundation. It directs funding to the North Area YMCA to assist young mothers diagnosed with breast cancer. In addition to subsidizing family memberships at the North branch, the fund helps women suffering from breast cancer with child care during doctor visits, counseling and psychological help, travel expenses for undergoing treatment in other cities, wigs, compression sleeves and more.

Kaye’s fund is only a few years old, but already it has made a positive and profound difference in the lives of many woman. Many have graciously shared their stories of how the fund has provided assistance with transportation to treatment, expenses to visit out-of-town specialists, bathing suits that can accommodate prosthetics for water exercise and healthy meals for their caregiving families, to name a few. They are all grateful that this fund is available to help them through such a difficult time.

By establishing the fund at the Community Foundation, the YMCA benefits from periodic designated contributions without undertaking administrative costs. I have full confidence that the Community Foundation’s staff and board of directors will steward Kaye’s fund into a local resource that goes far beyond our initial dreams, into perpetuity. We see no limit to the number of women and families that will benefit from this endowment.

Support for Kaye’s fund has come from our friends and from strangers alike. To me, all are angels who are helping individuals faced with the life threatening needs and devastating impact of cancer. With the support of its donors and the Community Foundation’s stewardship, the fund will continue to grow and directly help the women that need it for many years to come.

Kaye was passionate about helping other people. In her legacy, women going through a cancer diagnosis can reclaim their lives, get back into society and grow stronger while connecting with others also facing this disease. I feel that she would be so pleased that this fund carries out her desire to make a difference in the lives of others.

If you're interested in opening a designated fund, learn more here.

Wellness Center

Gordon Hershberger and the YMCA are putting the finishing touches on plans for the Kathleen Sill Hoffman Hershberger Cancer Wellness Center, to be located in the future Northwest Family YMCA in Baldwinsville. The Center will provide a calming and comfortable setting for people diagnosed with cancer. It will provide a place to privately exercise, research with relevant resources, and rest or visit with others facing the same types of challenges in their lives.