Gil and Cheyenne Q.

Lakewood Family YMCA

Gil was finally ready to start his journey to health so he and his wife joined the Y had a meeting with their coach, Cheyenne. After reading Gil's name several times, Cheyenne made a startling discovery.

 "Do you know Theresa?" she asked Gil. "That's my sister," Gil answered. With tears in her eyes, Cheyenne announced "I'M Theresa!" Because of an abusive relationship Cheyenne had changed her name to escape, and had just realized she had been reuinted with her brother.

What followed were tears and hugs and reminiscing that has not only touched the hearts of fellow members and YMCA staff, but also of the community and local media. What's unique about this story? The Y truly brought this family back together. Cheyenne, who had not only been abused by her husband but also by her father and grandfather, had grown up to be an angry, resentful, and self-loathing woman who struggled with weight issues and the lack of personal friendships. After a wakeup call from her doctor, she joined the Y and lost the weight, motivating her to help others.

Now, she coachesother members, but no matter how many people she helped, Cheyenne was still unhappy. A Y staff member suggested she take Journey to Freedom. Cheyenne jumped in with both feet and confronted her childhood demons. "I overdid my homework," she sheepishly admits. "But it brought me through the darkness to my true Father. I found forgiveness." Through Journey to Freedom, Cheyenne was able to forgive those who had abused her, and let go of all the anger and resentment that had haunted her for years. Gail gave Cheyenne her first Bible, and her heart opened up to everyone around her. Staff and members noticed the change in her. The negative facade was gone, replaced by smiles and an openness in her demeanor. "If it weren't for Journey to Freedom, Cheyenne would not have been in a place to receive the miracle of reuniting with her brother," said Kim. "The Y helped her to be physically, mentally, and emotionally ready." Now, Gil and Cheyenne are enjoying the process of catching up. She has joined his church, and is getting back in touch with other family members as well. Gil, who had no idea that his sister had been abused, is the big brother she always needed. "No more lonely holidays," Cheyenne said. "FINALLY! Someone from MY side of the family will be at Christmas dinner!" said Gil.