Delaware YMCA to honor former trainer


Chris Leyva had an impact on many in Delaware during his time as a personal trainer at the Delaware Community Center YMCA and as coach of the Delaware Special Olympics powerlifting team. Now, the YMCA wants to ensure that impact continues on for years to come.

On Sunday, Aug. 16, the YMCA will hold a ceremony to dedicate the Chris Leyva Personal Best Memorial Bell, honoring the Delaware Hayes graduate who passed away in June following a five-month battle with cancer.

“He was just a really important part of our team, always had a smile on his face,” Delaware YMCA Associate Executive Director Roger Hanafin told The Gazette. “He was able to really connect with the members and everyone who came in. He was really good at helping you define your goals and then reach them. That’s what he was all about.

“Chris really meant a lot to us. He wasn’t someone who came in, punched the clock, and then left. He would hang out before and after work, and he even volunteered his time outside of work … He always wanted the best for other people, ahead of himself,” Hanafin added.

Leyva’s sister, Stephanie, said the ceremony means a lot to the family.

“We knew that Chris touched a lot of lives through the friendships and work experiences he had,” she said. “He was just such a kind, easy-going person. It’s almost a little bit of a surprise sometimes to see the aftereffects. There’s been a lot of situations of people letting us know the effect Chris had on their lives, and the YMCA wanting to do this is obviously a good example of that. He obviously had a lasting impact there, and it’s just so great that they want to honor his memory that way.”

Hanafin said the personal best bell made a lot of sense to memorialize Leyva considering the fact that he always pushed people to be their best. The bell will be permanently mounted on the wellness floor, along with a plaque and picture of Leyva. Beside the bell will be a whiteboard, Hanafin said, which will allow members to write their goals on the board before, hopefully, reaching them and ringing the bell.

“It’s a great way for people to celebrate those milestones,” Hanafin said of the bell. “It’s really important when you have wellness goals, or any goals, that you take time to celebrate. We’re excited to see people celebrating, and when you ring that bell —it’s a pretty loud bell —I think you’re going to be able to hear it pretty much throughout the entire YMCA. It will be a pretty cool way to celebrate reaching that goal, and in a way, that will be Chris still pushing everyone to be their personal best. He’ll still be pushing us just like he was when he was here. It’s pretty cool symbolism.”

The ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. Sunday at the YMCA, located at 1121 S. Houk Road in Delaware, and it will include social distancing measures to ensure the safety of the attendees. The event is open to everyone, regardless of whether or not they knew Leyva, and those in attendance will be encouraged to put a goal on the board as part of the unveiling to kick off the memorial.

Pictured is the Chris Leyva Personal Best Memorial Bell, which will be dedicated Sunday at the Delaware Community Center YMCA. is the Chris Leyva Personal Best Memorial Bell, which will be dedicated Sunday at the Delaware Community Center YMCA. Courtesy photo | Delaware Community Center YMCA

By Dillon Davis

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Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

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