AMHERST - Corey Bates and Nick Merrill loved sports and spent much of their youth at the Cumberland County YMCA, so it was only fitting that their parents donated $1,500 last week to the YMCA.
"We're presenting the YMCA with $1,500 in memory of our sons, Corey Bates and Nick Merrill, who were dedicated members of the YMCA," Corey's mom, Kathy Bates, said.
The two young men died in a car crash in 2007 and for the last four years money raised at the Corey Bates and Nick Merrill Memorial Slo-pitch tournament has been used to support athletics and athletes throughout the community.
"My son came here a lot," Nick's mom, Brenda, said. "He lifted weights, played floor hockey and learned how to swim here."
"Nick would work out and Corey would socialize," Bates said with a laugh.
Nick and Corey both went to college in Moncton.
"Nick was a weightlifter and he was taking a Sports Recreation and Business course," Merrill said. "When they were going to school in Moncton they would go to the Y up there, and then go to the YMCA here in Amherst on the weekends."
The donation is part of a five-year commitment to the Cumberland YMCA.
"This is the first donation and we'd like to make it part of a five year plan, where we make a donation this year and for the next four years," Bates said.
And what will this year's donation purchase?
"Trina (YMCA CEO Trina Clarke) and I spoke about it," Bates said. "Both of them worked out here, they were always in the weight room, so we thought it might be nice if the money donated this year goes toward the weight room.
"But it could go towards the gym or the pool, because it's their money, and no matter how they use the money it's a benefit to the entire community."
"It doesn't matter what your economic situation is or what side of town you're from, everybody comes to the Y, so it benefits a lot of people," Merrill added.
The YMCA is going through renovations and Clarke said, "We would like to erect a plaque in the weight room when it is complete, so it's there as a symbol of the gift that's been made."
Bates and Merrill thank everybody who continues to support the Slo-pitch tournament.
"All the money we donate is raised through the tournament, so it's thanks to the people who participate in the tournament that we're able to make donations," Bates said.
"And if we have anything to do with it the tournament will go on for a long time," Merrill added.