Former Pittsburgh Steeler’s program to help Honor Court vets

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By Graig Graziosi


A former Pittsburgh Steeler is partnering with the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas’ Honor Court and the YMCA of Youngstown to help veterans through exercise and personal health.

Adventures in Training with a Purpose, started by former Pittsburgh Steelers lineman and Youngstown State University exercise science instructor Jon Kolb, is a nonprofit organization aimed at helping improve the lives of people in vulnerable communities through personal training and social engagement.

Tom Gacse, president of the YMCA of Youngstown, said he and the YMCA’s board of directors had been looking for a way to help veterans when Mahoning County Auditor Ralph Meacham introduced him to Kolb.

Veterans involved in the Mahoning County Honor Court – a special docket under Judge Anthony D’Apolito for veterans with low-level, nonviolent criminal offenses – will have the chance to participate in the program.

Matt O’Dell is one of the trainers at Adventures in Training with a Purpose. A former student of Kolb’s exercise science course at YSU, O’Dell said the program is more than just fitness training.

“We provide personalized fitness training, but we also provide these veterans with a positive social outlet where they can make friends and have an opportunity to build relationships with our trainers and with other participants,” O’Dell said.

Kolb said the program allows him and his staff – many of whom are former students – to take the academic side of kinesiology and make it practicable in a way that benefits society.

The program will be free for up to 10 veterans from the honor court at a time and is funded through grants obtained by Kolb’s organization. The YMCA will allow the program to use its facilities for free.

Judge D’Apolito invited members of the public and individuals involved with veteran welfare programs to his courtroom this week to unveil the partnership.

“I can’t wait for our veterans to start utilizing this program,” he said. “I’d like to see the first group of veterans start the program later this month.”

He also thanked the Boardman Rotary for providing the Honor Court with a new set of flags representing the armed forces and those missing in action and prisoners of war.

Adventures in Training with a Purpose began last October and is currently operating a program near Sharon, Pa.

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