McGaw YMCA Gala Video 2016

The Initial Idea

When the McGaw YMCA approached us last fall, they wanted a video that would engage their important stakeholders at their annual fundraising benefit. While they had in years past screened slideshows made in-house, they knew that video storytelling was the way to go if they wanted to up their game.

Diesel Armstrong Interview in his room for McGaw YMCA Video

We had an initial discussion over Skype where we found a main focus for the 4-minute video. The plan was to have it centered around the story of 12 year old Diesel Armstrong. Through his eyes, we would highlight the impact that 2 of the programs at the McGaw YMCA – The Children’s Center and Camp Echo – have had on his life.

Preparing for the Shoot

We scheduled an in-person tour of the McGaw YMCA next to make sure we could really get a sense of the space being used by the community. We also scheduled a pre-interview with Diesel to get to know him before bringing in the cameras and crew.

A 30-minute heart-to-heart conversation and some tears later, we knew he’d be a great subject to follow. He spoke with tremendous maturity and heart. It wasn’t until this chat that we uncovered an even more heartwarming aspect of Diesel’s experience with the Y – his relationship with his Project SOAR Mentor, Northwestern University Sophomore, John Wylie.

Diesel Armstrong and John Wylie Project SOAR Mentorship Program at McGaw YMCA

Shoot Day

On shoot day, we captured:

  • interviews with Diesel, his mom Cyndi, and John to build a well-rounded story
  • footage of Diesel and John hanging out together
  • footage of Diesel spending quality time with his family at home.

The McGaw YMCA Youth Gala Benefit Video

The result is this piece 4-minute piece which premiered on January 23, 2016 at the McGaw YMCA Youth Gala.

Record-Breaking Fundraiser

We are so proud to learn that the McGaw YMCA raised a record-breaking amount this year. Media For Social Change is honored we were able to help tell their amazing story through the power of video.

Make It Better Article: McGaw YMCA Gala Raises Record Breaking Amount

Feature article from Make It Better

Bonus Footage

We had the honor of being there the night of the premiere. It’s one of our favorite parts of doing this work; Getting to see the reactions of Diesel, Cyndi and John as they watched their stories being told through the power of video. Here’s how it went:


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WOW! It was an excellent, multi-tiered, heart-felt story appropriately focused on a sundry of significant transformational moments. Thanks for your visionary leadership and tenacity. On behalf of the entire McGaw YMCA association, we eagerly await your next production!
– Mark A. Dennis, Jr., President/CEO, McGaw YMCA -