Retirees Ann and Ray Fedorisin, unofficial health ambassadors at the Sussex County YMCA, weren’t always active seniors.

“We were well on our way to becoming committed couch potatoes,” Ann Fedorisin said. That changed in 2011, when her husband’s cardiologist told them their health insurance would cover a month of wellness coaching at the YMCA, she said.

The Vernon Township couple became hooked, taking classes in cardio like Zumba Gold, strength-building, flexibility and balance. Soon they were recruiting other seniors into classes and organizing social events.

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“Ray and Ann have been integral to the growth of our active adult programs,” Sussex County YMCA Associate Executive Director Corey Brown said. The Fedorisins received the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges’ 2017 Judge Harry L. Lindeman Award for Healthy Living at an awards dinner on April 12.

“Staying active is extremely important to our physical and mental well-being,” Ann Fedorisin said. Her husband underwent triple bypass surgery before they joined the YMCA and she is a two-time breast cancer survivor, she noted.

They both said the YMCA has improved their health and social lives. “We’ve met so many people and gained good friendships,” 71-year-old Ray Fedorisin said. “And even with my aches and pain, exercising feels good; it oils the joints!”

“The instructors, the staff, and the friends we've made make going to classes an enjoyment rather than a chore,” added his wife, age 69.

The affable couple are jokesters. Asked what her husband did before retiring, Ann Fedorisin said, “delivered body parts,” then waited three beats to add, “for Honda.” She was the registrar administrator for Montclair State University.

The Fedorisins help organize active adults programs, including monthly potluck luncheons and presentations, and the winter holiday party. “They are the welcoming committee, the set-up crew, chefs and clean-up crew,” Brown said.

The couple said they felt overwhelmed to receive the award. “It is a wonderful feeling to know that people notice and appreciate your efforts,” she said. When they’re not at the YMCA or out with friends, they enjoy time at home with their 8-year-old rescue cat, Little Man.

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ABOUT THE Y

Established in 1885, the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges invests in its diverse communities to promote wellness, safety and quality of life for children, adults and seniors. Its seven branches in East Orange, Livingston, Maplewood, Hackensack, Hardyston, Stillwater and Wayne are committed to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility through an array of programs. Some 35,000 people belong to the Metro Y, which awards more than $2.8 million annually in direct and indirect financial assistance.