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an older man sitting at a table

Angelo – better known around the Northwest Family YMCA as Sonny - at 95 years old has had a long history with the YMCA of Greater Rochester.

“The Y has always been a part of my life, even when I was really young,” said Sonny.

He has always been an athletic individual, even from an early age. So when he was 14, he started getting involved at the Y, coming to the Maplewood Family YMCA so he could get his routine exercises in.

At 18, he got drafted and served during World War II where he was promoted to corporal. Along with training the troops to use bayonets, he also became a personal trainer.

When he returned from service, he started helping his family run their bakery. Vigorously working seven days a week resulted in Sonny seeking an outlet. So, he decided to get back into the Y. Coming to the Y meant that he could get back into his workout routine and meet other members of the community.

“I met a lot of good friends at the Y, a lot of good people,” Sonny said.

Sonny would begin to workout with other members and quickly became good friends with many of them. Sometimes they would even take their workout outside of the Y where they would run from the Maplewood location to Seneca Park.

When he was 32, Sonny got his lifeguard certification. Although he claims he barely passed, he couldn't begin to imagine the impact he would have on the lives of so many. At the age of 70, Sonny came to the Maplewood location looking to get a part-time lifeguarding job. In 2005, he saved a woman with special needs who was drowning. He would then save three additional people in the pool.

“That’s a lifeguard’s job, you’ve got to be on your toes,” he said.

At the age of 90, he retired (again) from his part-time job at the Y, but continued coming to work out and motivate other members.

“I say, ‘come on guys, I was still working when I was your age!’,” he recalls with a laugh. “They always say, ‘here comes Sonny, let’s get moving.’”

Sonny, now 95, still comes to the Y three times a week to get his workouts in and to meet up with other members.

"It's part of my life," he said. "I will never stop as long as I am healthy."