LIVINGSTON, NJ — From the depths of tragedy, Livingston native Mario Arace learned to embrace the good in life. Today, Arace has taken on a new role as a member of the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges Board of Directors.

In 1982, at age 16, Arace was badly injured in a car crash that claimed his older brother, Andrew, a Livingston High School linebacker. When his father died 12 years later, Arace found himself grieving them both.

Arace became a successful wealth manager and family man, but at times struggled with anxiety, feeling overwhelmed by the world. He refused to be a victim, however, and took responsibility for his happiness.

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“I realized life is not happening to me, life is happening for me,” said Arace, who recently launched an initiative called Elevate Others to motivate people—especially young people—to approach life as a gift and eschew negativity. “I’ve overcome a lot, and want to make sure the next generation has a good attitude about life, approaching it always through the eyes of a child.”

Arace, whose passion for children’s wellbeing inspired him join the board of directors, said he is eager to serve on the YMCA’s leadership board because the organization’s mission aligns with his own. He added that his goal as a board member is to raise money and expand opportunities for children.

“Mario is committed to empowering people — especially children— to pursue their best lives,” said Metro YMCA President and CEO Richard K. Gorab. “The Metro YMCA is fortunate that he is willing to channel his passion and energy into advancing our mission of fostering youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.”

The Livingston native played basketball and worked out at the West Essex YMCA in the football off-season and when he wasn’t surfing at the Jersey Shore with his brother. After graduating from the University of Maryland, he launched a career in finance. Arace is an executive director and banker at J.P. Morgan Private Bank in Summit.

Arace describes himself as “a very emotional guy—in a positive way.” He hopes his efforts will inspire people to live their best lives.

“We need a mass movement to make the world a better place,” said Arace, who has also written a motivational book that is due out soon.

Arace and his wife, Donna, now live in the Murray Hill section of New Providence with their daughters: 19-year-old Danielle, 17-year-old Lauren and 15-year-old Gabrielle.