This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
WEST CHESTER — There were no protests outside of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine in West Chester on Tuesday afternoon as a new candidate was announcing a run for president.
In fact, for the first time in Chester County, both the county Democratic and Republican parties agree on this candidate.
“The Y movement is responding with an alternative message,” said Bob Shope, board chairman at the YMCA of Greater Brandywine. “We find ourselves supporting one of our members who could be a candidate for president – a candidate that our elected officials can all get behind as a cause to bring the community together. Our candidate is just getting off the blocks. In fact, you might say she has to crawl sometimes.”
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That’s because this candidate, Zoe, is just a year old and the idea is that she has the potential to run for the nation’s highest office in 2064.
“She and her opposition and her staff can only get there with the support of our community members,” Shope said. “We believe the Y is an important and effective tool to facilitate that support. Early education, after-school programming, the YMCA of Greater Brandywine gives all the kids the supplemental and social opportunities they need to one day be president.”
At the campaign announcement, both Val DiGiorgio and Brian McGinnis, chairmen of the Republican and Democratic county parties, respectively, were in attendance to state their endorsements.
“I believe Zoe is the only Republican candidate we will agree on for president probably in our lifetime,” McGinnis joked to the crowd.
The chairmen also highlighted the need for a place such as the YMCA in the community and why this campaign is important.
“I’m excited to be here today and announce my support for Zoe for president,” DiGiorgio said. “Zoe, while she may not be able to run until 2064, embodies the development of every child in Chester County. That’s why it’s important for us to stand here beside her and the YMCA of Greater Brandywine in their mission to prepare every child for success so they can, too, run for president or achieve whatever goal or dream they have.”
Joining DiGiorgio and McGinnis were state Rep. Duane Milne, R-167, of Willistown; state Rep. Dan Truitt, R-156, of East Goshen; county Commissioner Michelle Kichline; and representatives from Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s office and Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey’s office. There were also representatives from the offices of U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6, of West Goshen, and state Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19, of West Whiteland.
The purpose of Zoe’s campaign for president in 2064 is to bring to the forefront children struggling in the county and to continue to provide the services the YMCA has to give them a place to stay out of trouble, learn and succeed.
“At the Y, we believe in a better us — a future that can be shaped by the programs, services and support we provide especially for the children and families in our community,” Shope said. “We believe the future looks bigger, better and brighter because of the people of all ages who look at the Y as an important part of their lives.”
Though Zoe herself wasn’t in attendance, three teenage YMCA members were on hand to give their speeches as to why they should be chosen as Zoe’s running mate and future vice president. Each of the three — Wyatt Oatman, Janiyah DeShields and Onye Mazyck — also go to school in one of the three middle schools in the West Chester Area School District.
The YMCA of Greater Brandywine is encouraging people to donate to Zoe’s campaign and to give all the children in the county the opportunities to succeed in their lives.
Anyone interested can visit www.ymcagbw.org/zoeforpresident or use the hashtags #zoeforpresident and #zoe555challenge — give a high-five, donate $5 and pass the challenge to five friends — on social media.
“Some people may think this is the wealthiest county in Pennsylvania, but kids in Chester County need our help,” said Denise Day, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine. “I’m here to tell you that there is still many, many children that are in need. Just in the borough of West Chester, 16 percent of children, ages 5 through 15, live below the poverty line or are at risk for juvenile delinquency, school dropouts or low academic achievement. Our goal…is to level that playing field for every child in Chester County so they can run for president one day if they want to.”