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YMCA Winners Fall in Love

Karen Greene met the man of her dreams by accident. While in therapy at the Norwalk YMCA for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle mishap seven years ago, she noticed Tom Kirmayer in the aquatic therapy class. Kirmayer had recently undergone hip replacement surgery. The same therapy group had recommended the Y to each of them.

Greene and Kirmayer developed an initial chemistry. They started dating and moved in together a few years later. Greene wrote a brief essay for the Norwalk Y on her unusual romantic start and was one of four winners in its "Why I Love the Norwalk YMCA" contest. Other winners were Emmanuel Yescas (in the child-8 category), Jonette Colletti (youth-13) and Susanne DeMasi (adult). Each winner received $100.

Kirmayer said he was drawn to Greene instantly. "Karen is very interesting, and she has a great sense of humor,'' he said. "It livens up therapy class, that's for sure." Added Karen: "I think we just started laughing."

Neither Greene nor Kirmayer saw a romantic relationship developing when they registered for the class. "We're all older. A lot of them are depressed by the idea of having to go to therapy. If you welcome them, they begin to feel like family. That's what I did with him. We just clicked."

Kirmayer, 73, is retired. Greene works at Norwalk Community College as a voice instructor. Karen, a divorcee, and Kirmayer, a widower, still visit the Y about three times a week for water exercise. Their journey to romantic bliss amazes them.

"When he smiles, his eyes twinkle,'' Karen says. "To meet somebody with a sense of humor, who is just the nicest person on Earth, in a class at the YMCA, it's just astounding."

In the photo, from left: Tom Kirmayer, Karen Greene, Emmanuel Yescas, Jonette Colletti and Susanne DeMasi.

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