The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation is donating $1.6 million to help the rapidly growing Greater Kingsport Family YMCA to expand.

This lead gift will kick start its expansion campaign by providing significantly more than half of the funding needed for the Y’s next phase. The Foundation is responding to the immediate need of this YMCA, as it supports the healthy choices of its members and a growth in membership of 450 percent in the past year (currently 14,700 members).

“We are excited to help the Greater Kingsport Family YMCA with this gift, which is consistent with our mission of fostering healthy communities in the state,” said BlueCross President and CEO Bill Gracey. “The growth of the YMCA demonstrates how real the need is for a facility like this, which is dedicated to community wellness. We’ve been looking at this effort for more than a year and it is our hope that our contribution can help people in the Kingsport area keep their momentum toward better health.”

The Kingsport YMCA Wellmont Center has a desire to have a positive impact on the region’s staggering health statistics — 73 percent of adults overweight or obese; 45 percent pre-diabetic. Since the opening of the new YMCA in 2013, the reach and influence has been noteworthy, with enormous potential to change the future of health for the greater Kingsport area.

“We are absolutely thrilled and incredibly grateful for the confidence of BlueCross in us to further impact the health of our community,” said Charlie Glass, Kingsport YMCA CEO. “Our need for additional space to accommodate more individuals and families is overwhelming. This gift will enable us to act quickly and respond to the demand of our members.”

In communities across the nation, the Y is a leading voice on health and well-being. Millions of youth, adults and families are receiving the support, guidance, and resources needed to achieve this end for their spirit, mind and body. The local Kingsport Y embraces this challenge and is committed to making a difference one family at a time.