GENEROSITY - From left

RDC announces major donations to new wellness facility

It was a big day of announcements in Red Deer last week, as Red Deer College unveiled several new developments in the planned Health and Wellness Centre, which is scheduled for groundbreaking later this fall.

During a special announcement event in the Arts Centre, the College announced a combined $8 million in donations to the project. That list included a single donation of $5 million, the largest in the College’s history.

“It’s a little humbling and exciting,” said Gary Harris, who made the $5 million donation. In recognition of the gift, Red Deer College also announced the new facitlity will bear Harris’ name.

“I just feel that you live in a community most of your life and you want to be remembered,” Harris said, adding that he wants the Gary W. Harris Centre for Health, Wellness and Sport to be that legacy for him.

Harris said he made the donation because he noticed that some of the facilities at RDC were in need of an update.

“I played basketball and volleyball at (RDC), and that was more than 40 years ago,” Harris said, adding that he wanted Red Deer to have facilites that would attract national-level events.

During the presentation, RDC also announced a $1.5 million long-term investment from Hockey Alberta, who will use the new facility as their new provincial training centre and head office, as well as investments by Lacombe County, who donated $1 million, and Red Deer County, who contributed $500,000.

During the presentation, the College also launcehd a new volunteer committee, called Shaping Our Future, which is aimed at rasing the remaining $25 million over the next four years in order to fully fund the project before it opens its doors in fall 2018.

Plans to build the Centre for Health, Wellness and Sport were first put into motion when Red Deer was chosen to host the 2019 Canada Winter Games. RDC is a venue partner for the event and is also playing host to the Athlete’s Village.

Beyond that, though, the new facility will also allow RDC to strengthen its longstanding bid for degree-granting status.

“This facility will be a crucial next step in providing our learners with the opportunites they need to be successful in their lives and in their careers,” said Michael Donlevy, the vice president of enterprise and community relations for RDC during his speech at the event.

Ground will be broken on the facility later this fall with major construction on the project slated to begin in early 2016.

zcormier@reddeerexpress.com