MOUNT DESERT, Maine — He may not be Jimmy Stewart, but a local teenager this past week took advantage of an opportunity that rarely is offered to high school sophomores.
Madison Luck, 16, went to Washington and gave a speech.
Many pupils get the chance to travel to the nation’s capital to see its monuments and iconic buildings, but Luck went as a delegate to the YMCA National Advocacy Days conference. During his visit, Luck gave a speech to more than 200 other YMCA devotees and met with Sen. Susan Collins.
“It was a really good experience,” Luck said Saturday about his four-day trip to Washington with his mom, Nia Luck. “It’s a great city.”
Luck, who swims and volunteers at the Mount Desert Island YMCA in Bar Harbor, was offered the chance to go earlier this winter by MDI YMCA Executive Director Kim Harty, the teenager said. The Y has done a lot to help shape Luck since he was a toddler, he said, and he wanted to do something to help the Y in return.
“Over the years, it really has become a lifestyle for me,” Luck said.
When he was two years old, not long before his family moved to MDI from New Jersey, he fell into a pool and sank before being pulled out, which prompted his parents to get him swimming lessons at a young age, Luck said.
“From then on I had a love of the water,” he said.
As his childhood progressed, however, his waistline expanded, Luck said. When his family moved to Hancock County, he started going to the MDI Y on a regular basis to deal with his weight. It worked.
“I lost a gut,” Luck said.
For his speech last Wednesday, Luck said he talked about his Y experiences, the Y camps programs he has attended, and about the Y’s mission of promoting honesty, respect, responsibility and caring.
“It was received fairly well,” he said of his speech. “It was a really comfortable environment.”
Collins met Thursday in Washington with Luck and his fellow MDI resident Stephen Richards, chairman of the YMCA Alliance of Maine. They presented her with a 2011 Congressional Champion award from the Y for her work in supporting diabetes prevention and research programs.
Active lifestyles such as those made possible by YMCA memberships and programs, the senator said, help prevent and reduce the effects of the disease.
“It was especially meaningful to have two Mainers, Stephen Richards and Madison Luck, present [the award] to me,” Collins said Saturday in a prepared statement. “Through his involvement with the Mount Desert Island YMCA, Madison has learned that a healthy diet and regular exercise can help prevent chronic illnesses, like Type 2 diabetes, later in life.”
Tony DeMuro, Luck’s swim coach at the Y, said Sunday that it is hard to imagine the Y having a better young ambassador than Luck. Not only is the MDI High School sophomore an avid Y member volunteer, he also plays cello and is a swimming instructor for younger children at the Y.
“He’s one of those kids that can handle everything and does it,” DeMuro said.
Luck’s trip to Washington, DeMuro added, “is awesome for him. He really is a special kid.”