Hello everyone! I am excited as I am writing my first blog about myself. I first want to say thank you for reading this… I’m a little nervous!
My name is Riley Gruntorad and I live in Lexington, Nebraska. I was born and raised in Lexington, 6 miles north of town on a farm. I attended elementary school at the District #7 rural country school just a few miles down the road. It was the best! I often think if there was something I could do again in my life, I would choose a country school in a heartbeat. I have fond memories of the Christmas plays we presented every year, running down the dirt turn row to test in the mile and playing kickball in the big lot. I can still remember almost everyone who attended the school and some of them are still my closest friends. If you could go back and do something again, what would you do?
I enjoyed my middle school and high school days as well. I enjoyed being able to work on the farm and buy my first truck so I could drive at 14 and learn new things along the way. I tried different activities and enjoyed playing sports. My love was football, but I also enjoyed FFA in which I served as an officer and enjoyed participating in the leadership camp in Aurora. I made an impact there, but not for the best reason. We were swimming in the pool and we boys were showing off for the girls. Somehow, while doing a backflip in the pool, I hit my head on part of the pool and cracked the bridge of my nose open. I was so embarrassed, I wanted to go home. I remember going to the nurse and Mr. Burks taking me to the doctor to get stitches. My mom was going to come to get me, but Mr. Burks talked me out of it and I am glad I stayed and made some great memories. We all have those times when we were kids when we did something stupid or embarrassing. Can you think of one of those times? Would you change what happened or was the outcome OK?
Before my senior year of high school, I joined the Army National Guard and did split training. So, I went to basic training before my senior year and then when I graduated. Soon after, I went to AIT. This is another experience in my life that I would do all over again. I loved basic training. Do you remember in the movie “Forrest Gump” when he was explaining basic training and fitting in the Army? He said, “For some reason, I fit in the Army like one of them round pegs. It’s not really hard.” I felt the same way. I just fit in and was good at it. It wasn’t hard. You followed directions, listened, tried hard, and good outcomes happened. I spent six years in the military, and I am thankful for my experiences and getting to serve my country next to some of the best people I have ever met. The Army shaped me into the man and leader I am today. Was there an experience or a person in your life who helped shape who you are today?
I have been blessed to work at the YMCA for the past six years. I first worked for three years as the Branch Executive Director of the Orthman Community YMCA, and I am now in my third year as CEO of YMCA of the Prairie. I love my job and have an amazing team I get to work with every day. I enjoy the people (members and staff) the most, getting to know new people and making connections in the communities that we serve. I look forward to 2022 for the YMCA and to discovering how we can better serve our communities and continue to make an impact. We want to be the hub of the community and help however we can.
Thank you for reading my first-ever blog. I hope you enjoyed it. If you want to catch up and talk more, you can find me at the YMCA. My door is always open. If I’m not working, I am with my wife and kids. My 7-year-old twins keep me busy, and I love spending time with my wife, Jess. She is my best friend. You will find us doing yard work, cruising in the four-wheeler, truck or mustang, hunting, fishing, playing sports or pretty much anything outside 😉