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Longtime supporter going the distance for YMCA

Waukegan  Saturday  12/1/12   

Retired judge David Hall is walking raise funds save 100-year-old YMCA Waukegan. |

Waukegan Saturday, 12/1/12 Retired judge, David Hall is walking to raise funds to save the 100-year-old, YMCA in Waukegan. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media

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The Hall family has been a proponent of the YMCA for 120 years, according to David Hall, whose grandfather, Albert Hall, was a leader in the community drive to establish the YMCA building that opened in 1925 and still stands in downtown Waukegan. Hall’s great-grandfather, John Hall, helped obtain a YMCA charter for Waukegan and its first building in 1912. That building was located where the Genesee Theater now stands.

Forms to pledge support for Judge Hall’s walk are available at Northern Lake YMCA, 2000 Western Ave., Waukegan, and online at

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Updated: January 4, 2013 6:13AM

Retired Lake County Judge David Hall has pledged to complete a 100-mile fund-raising walk to help save the century-old Waukegan YMCA.

Hall, 60, a former chief judge who left the bench in July after serving 23 years, received an enthusiastic send-off from a small crowd gathered outside the Waukegan YMCA at noon on Saturday. Wearing a sandwich board advertising his quest, Hall, who in 2011 was diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, spoke haltingly about his intention to walk one mile for every year the YMCA has continuously operated in Waukegan.

“One mile for every year my family has been involved in the Y,” said Hall, who stepped down from the board of directors of the two-branch Lake County Family YMCA earlier this year.

A lifelong Waukegan resident, Hall spent the last four years of his judgeship embroiled in a court case and lawsuit stemming from a 2008 DUI arrest. He was cleared of that charge in July, but was convicted of resisting arrest.

Hall plans to solicit donations and pledges for each mile he walks “from place to place,” “knocking on doors,” or on the Y’s indoor track and he will also work the phones, he said. His goal is $250,000.

On Day 1, he set out to walk a minimum of two miles. Leading a group of other Y members, he headed south on the Robert McClory Bike Trail, which runs past the Y.

“The Y has never been more important to Waukegan that it is right now,” Hall said. “The recession has hit the Y and Waukegan very hard. If we can’t keep a Y in the city of Waukegan, it’s a very bad sign for all of us.

The future of the financially strapped Lake County Family YMCA is still uncertain two months after the Y’s board of directors abruptly announced a plan to close both its branches on Oct. 31, citing an $8 million deficit. A public outcry and a deal by the village of Vernon Hills to purchase its 11-year-old Y and turn it over for operation by the park district, won the Y in Waukegan a reprieve through Dec. 31.

Hall was chairman of the YMCA board that orchestrated the agency’s move from downtown Waukegan to the site on Western, between Glen Flora and Sunset, where it opened in 1987. He helped raise the first $1 million for that effort.

Hall said he plans to visit the YMCA at noon “every day I can make it” before embarking on his daily treks. He will carry copies of his pledge, and a Waukegan Y Building Pledge that stipulates donations will be payable only if the Waukegan Y is “released from all mortgages, notes and other obligations associated with loans to the YMCA.”

“I will walk alone or with anyone who can join me,” Hall’s pledge states.

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