Livestrong at the YMCA


A supportive community is a big part of health and wellness. Our mission drives us to ensure everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive in a nurturing environment.


LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is fully funded by donors to engage cancer survivors through an approach that focuses on the whole person – mind and body.

Through this program participants work with trained Y staff to improve cardiovascular endurance and functional ability, build muscle mass and strength, and increase flexibility. In addition to physical benefits, the program also focuses on the mental and emotional well-being of survivors and their families. This creates a supportive community environment where people affected by cancer can connect during treatment and beyond.

By focusing on health, rather than the disease, LIVESTRONG at the YMCA of the Iowa Mississippi Valley has helped over 500 cancer survivors move beyond illness to reclaim their wellness in both spirit, mind and body.

Livestrong at the YMCA is a 12-week program offered at no cost to participants. Living with cancer is stressful and difficult enough, and the YMCA and our donors want to ensure everyone can participate and don’t have to worry about the cost.

Upcoming Dates for 2024


  • Winter session January 9-March 28
  • Spring session: April 9-June 27
  • Fall session: August 27-November 14


  • Bittner YMCA: Tues/Thur from 10am-11:15am
  • Utica Ridge YMCA: Tues/Thurs from 5:15pm-6:30pm.
Contact for further information: Dusty Mueller –


A First-Person Livestrong Perspective

My name is Curtis Wheeler and I was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (Not Curable) in September of 2020.  My cancers have created physical, emotional and social challenges (to name a few) that have been compounded by my fear of the unknown.  Following surgery, I tried to participate in several cancer specific programs in our community, but felt empty and unfulfilled.  Sitting in circles sharing stories, recipes and tears did not motivate me to try and improve my situation.  I needed more.  I decided to start looking outside the box at other programs, so I contacted the YMCA about their Silver Sneakers Class, and whether I was eligible.  This is when I first heard about Livestrong.

I met with someone at the Davenport North location on what felt like the coldest day of the year.  I could not walk without a walker, and wasn’t strong enough to even open the doors, but I was curious (and cold).  The Livestrong introductory video was powerful, and had me in tears for all the right reasons.  What I learned about Livestrong that day was that it isn’t about what it is…but what it could be.  An interactive, goal-oriented program with others experiencing the same challenges as me in a welcoming environment?  Sign me up!

Livestrong staff helped set realistic goals based on my Oncologist’s input and initial assessments.  This was both unique and comforting since no other programs I participated in had any type of interaction with my doctors.  The real comfort came from meeting past participants of the program.  You could hear the peace in their voices when sharing their stories about Livestrong.  They were upfront about the frustrations we would feel, and offered suggestions to push past it.  This honesty from those battling similar diseases was exactly what I needed to hear.  “You will get what you put into it.”

“Livestrong creates a social environment where cancer warriors can talk openly, and on a level that most do not understand.  We do not hold pity parties, but instead motivate and push one another.”

Physically within the first couple of months, I was able to walk without a walker, climb stairs unassisted (slowly), and able to shoot a basketball.  I had been trying for a year to accomplish these goals with no luck.  These little victories had a HUGE impact on my emotional well being.  I could do things that I thought I would never be able to do again.  My attitude became more positive and less gloom and doom.  It improved my relations at home to the point where my wife starting going to class with me to be part of this positive change.  Livestrong creates a social environment where cancer warriors can talk openly, and on a level that most do not understand.  We do not hold pity parties, but instead motivate and push one another.

This condensed version of my experience with Livestrong only scratches the surface.  There are so many benefits and moments during this journey that I could share, but would need a much bigger forum.  God blessed me with the gift of gab and a desire to promote this program.

Testimonial aside…here is the truth:

Livestrong saved my life.  It gave me hope when I had none.  It didn’t feel sorry for me, it challenged me.  It targeted my physical limitations, but improved my emotional, spiritual and social limitations as well.  The bond I have with our trainers and classmates is unmatched.  I have never felt closer or stronger about others as I do this group.  I feel safe and comfortable talking about my disease.  The facilities are perfect for this program and I couldn’t imagine it anywhere else.  The bottom line is this…We have a BIG GOD who loves us, and this program checks all the boxes for a cancer warrior to feel alive again with the hope and knowledge that we are not alone and hard work does pay off.  “You get what you put into it.”

Cancer can devastate anyone, at anytime, from any background. When it happens, the lives of everyone that person are affected.

“I have a new attitude about life,” said Martha (shown on right). “I left behind the toxic memories of the disease, disappointing milestones and other horrible experiences. I no longer care about the judgement of others. Life is a blessing! It is time to live it! No I am embarking on a new challenge with the great people God has put in my path.”