Mary Free Bed YMCA welcomes visitors of all abilities

The new Mary Free Bed YMCA. (Dec. 3, 2015)

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The new Mary Free Bed YMCA opened its doors to members for the first time Monday morning.

The facility is the first health and wellness facility in the world specifically designed to equally serve all individuals, regardless of ability.

“I have SMA and it stands for spinal muscular atrophy,” said 13-year-old Malorie Fox. “I’ve been to a lot of places with stairs, and that limits the places where I’m able to go.”

Fox is confined to a wheelchair, but has no problem getting around the new YMCA; the focal point of the facility is a massive ramp that connects the first and second floors.

“There’s not any ramp like that anywhere in the country. We’re very excited to have that option available to us,” said Andrew Page, who is the chief operating officer for the Greater Grand Rapids YMCAs.

>>Photos: Inside the Mary Free Bed YMCA

The new $31 million facility is more than 116,000 square feet and sits on a 36 acre campus at the corner of Kraft Avenue and Burton Street in Cascade Township.

The facility includes 2.5 gymnasiums, two pools, two group fitness and indoor cycling studios, an indoor track, climbing wall, state-of-the-art fitness equipment, wheelchair softball field, tennis courts, baseball and soccer fields, a greenhouse, teaching kitchen, and learning farm.

“We’ve also done a really good job of spacing the area out as much as we can so that there is easy access for everyone,” Page said.

Fox said she is excited to try the climbing wall and basketball court. She already enjoyed taking a spin around the new track.

“I saw the smile on her face, I saw her using the track, I saw the excitement she had. That makes it all worthwhile,” Page said.

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