LEXINGTON, Ky. — Since 1853, the YMCA of Central Kentucky has focused on health, wellness and safety. 170 years of service to the community.

What You Need To Know

  • YMCA of Central Kentucky is celebrating 170 years of service

  • Benny Hicks is a lifeguard at the facility and credits the organization with his active lifestyle

  • Lexington is officially honoring the YMCA during November 

Benny Hicks is a retired attorney and is now a lifeguard at the Central Kentucky YMCA’s four-lane pool.  

“I wanted to have something to take up my time. And I thought it was real. You know, I’ve always been a YMCA from high school on and always tried to stay fit and I enjoy being around people who, you know, like exercising and always a friendly crowd,” Hicks said. 

Hicks is very active. He regularly takes part in triathlons, pickleball, and more, all things he does or practices for at the YMCA.

Benny Hicks spends his mornings lifeguarding at Lexington’s YMCA’s. He participates in several fitness programs. (Spectrum News 1/Sabriel Metcalf)

“In addition, just to health benefits. I mean, I enjoy it. It’s like someone, you know, playing golf or going fishing or, you know, continuing to improve tennis skills if they’re a musician, it’s like something you like to do,“ he said. 

The High Street YMCA is the oldest of nearly five in the city, providing health programs for adults and children.

Daryl Smith’s family has a legacy rooted in Lexington’s YMCA. It started with his grandmother advocating for African Americans to go to the “Y” in the city. His dad then worked at Lexington YMCA from 1956 to 1991. Smith is now the chair of Central Kentucky YMCA board.

“I feel blessed to be the third generation of my family that is engaged with the YMCA,” Smith said. 

Mayor Linda Gorton joined Smith, and YMCA CEO and president Paula Anderson to mark November as the official YMCA month and celebrate the 170th anniversary. 

Central Kentucky YMCA started programs in 1853 in Lexington. (Spectrum News 1/Sabriel Metcalf)

“You know, we can build buildings — it’s not easy, but it’s sort of easy. But the hard part is building people, and that is what you are all about,” Mayor Gorton said. 

Hicks, who has been lifeguarding for just a year, said his history with the “Y” spans across the country,

“I was at the only YMCA in Jacksonville, Florida, and that’s a pretty good-sized city,” he said.

YMCA leaders say they hope the city is still celebrating 170 years from now.