OLEAN — After YMCA of the Twin Tiers CEO Barb Sweitzer lost her daughter, Jessica, to mental illness five years ago, she and her husband wanted to start a program that would help close the gap in services — and provide individuals an opportunity to have purpose and balance.

What they and the Olean Family YMCA on Wayne Street designed in 2015 was a mental health program at the Y called the Swizzy’s Cause Program in honor of Jessica. The program, which provides counseling and other services at the Y for people with mental illness, conducts yearly benefits to fund the program.

The latest fundraiser for the program, called “Rally for a Cause,” will be held from 5:30 to 10 p.m. July 26 at St. Stephen’s Club, 1117 N. Union St.

Admission is $20 per person, pre-sale at the Y, or by calling 373-2400. Admission is $25 at the door the day of the event, and includes food, non-alcoholic beverages and draft beer, with a cash bar available.

The evening will also include raffles, a wheel of drawings, a 50/50, silent auctions and basket raffles, with tickets for the latter available at the Y. A big ticket raffle will include prizes such as a week vacation in Orlando, Fla. or Las Vegas, Nev.; a wine tour for six; and an Ellicottville spa and dinner package, golf outings for four at the Bartlett Country Club and a movie package for four at the AMC Theatre. Ticket holders do not have to be present to win.

“Our volunteers are so excited for this year’s event, and with the support of our amazing partners, sponsors and donors, it will be a successful fundraiser.” Sweitzer said.

The fundraiser is necessary to ensure people with mental illness are helped through the Y program.

“We wanted to start a program that would help close the gap in services and provide individuals an opportunity to have purpose and balance,” Sweitzer said in explaining the formation of the Y Swizzy’s Cause Program. “These are two very important components for people living with bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety to live a productive happy life. Swizzy’s Cause, named after Jessica, addresses these needs.”

For her part, Kristin Tim, senior director of branch operations of YMCA of the Twin Tiers, said she is “always inspired when our community comes together in an effort to help others.

“Swizzy’s Cause is one of the many great organizations and groups in the Southern Tier working tirelessly to improve the lives of our friends and neighbors in need of services or, sometimes, just a supportive conversation,” Tim said.

She further noted the “Rally for a Cause event was established to provide a fun-filled evening for attendees with a light dose of education about mental health issues.”

For more information on the event, call the Y at 373-2400.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at kates_th@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)

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