WATERBURY — On Thursday, January 23, the board of directors of the Greater Waterbury YMCA met the members of The Chase Michael Anthony Kowalski (CMAK) Foundation. The morning began with a small ceremony to unveil a recognition plaque paying tribute to a recent CMAK Foundation gift to the Greater Waterbury YMCA Child Development Center. The gift of financial support celebrates the center as a safe and loving environment for children to thrive.
The CMAK Foundation was named for Chase Kowalski, one of the children killed on 12/14. It honors his life and his love of athletics.
After the ceremony, CMAK Foundation members and representatives from Greater Waterbury YMCA, Lakewood Trumbull YMCA and the Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut met to solidify a partnership by signing the Memorandums of Understanding for the Race4Chase Youth Triathlon Program. Rebecca and Stephen Kowalski, Chase’s parents, have partnered with these three regional YMCAs to start a Race4Chase youth triathlon program in Connecticut that will celebrate their son’s love for the sport. Chase ran, and won, his first triathlon the summer before he was killed.
“Chase won his first and only triathlon,” said Mrs Kowalski. “There was no slowing my son down and the triathlon program is going to help other kids achieve that goal and build their self-esteem.” Mrs Kowalski said the program is a perfect way to honor her son
YMCA locations in Waterbury, Danbury and Trumbull will host the triathlon program. Starting in June, 90 children between the ages of 6 and 12 will prepare for a mini-triathlon in August by learning how to swim, bike and run.
“To feel that power, to be able to compete in such a hard event and have the hope that they can do it,” said Mrs Kowalski, “most people don’t do it until they’re in their 20s or 30s. Here’s a 6-year-old who taught himself how to swim, ride his bike, and run.”
In addition to these events, the Greater Waterbury YMCA Child Development Center was presented with a gift by the CMAK Foundation of a handmade wooden toy ark for all of the children to enjoy. Jim O’Rourke, executive director of the Greater Waterbury YMCA, was also presented with a beautiful triathlon-themed quilt by the foundation in gratitude for partnering to bring Chase’s love for triathlon to as many children as possible throughout Connecticut and beyond.
“We’re going to learn this year with these three programs, and the hope for next year is to see it go to six, 12, 24, and keep Chase’s footprint across Connecticut and the United States,” said Mr O’Rourke.