Cliff and Mary Saurwein, major benefactors of Heidelberg’s new Saurwein Health & Wellness Center, would have been very impressed with the facility. “They would have been so proud of this facility,” their nephew, Harold “Herk” Wolfe said Thursday as part of a formal dedication ceremony.
The center is in keeping with the Saurweins’ vision to create a welcoming facility for students of all walks of life as well as the campus and local communities. Heidelberg graduates from 1927 and 1930, the Saurweins provided a multi-million-dollar estate gift from their estate for construction of the $4.3 million center, which is attached to Seiberling Gymnasium.
“Things turned out Just as Mary had wanted,” Wolfe said. It was her vision to create a welcoming facility open to all students, athletes and non-athletes alike. The official opening brings to fruition her dream, which she envisioned following Cliff’s challenge as a student in the 1920s to find space to work out on campus that wasn’t in conflict with athletic practice and games.
The Saurweins, who were married for 70 years before passing away in 1999 and 2001, respectively, were generous donors to Heidelberg throughout their lives. They had no children. “It turned out they didn’t need any, because they loved this institution so much,” Wolfe said.
As part of the dedication, Trustee Charlie Cole, also a major donor to the facility, spoke about the role of fitness in his lifetime and the importance of providing those same opportunities to young people. He thanked the Saurweins “for giving back to Heidelberg, which we appreciate.”
Cole said it took great vision from the administration and a collaborative effort to bring the project to fruition.
The 22,000-square-foot center, which opened in late August, is the catalyst to promote and nurture a foundation for healthy living. It is the fifth new or renovated facility to open at Heidelberg in just three years. Saurwein provides cardio and weight training equipment; multi-purpose space for group fitness activities; lectures and seminars; a lounge; space for healthy refreshments; classrooms and faculty/staff offices; and a unique wellness technology station that allows individuals to track their personal progress toward health goals.
In addition to providing opportunities to work toward healthy lifestyles, Saurwein has multiple other benefits for students, who – in its first month of operation – have utilized the facility at a rate of about 1,000 visitors per week.
Sophomore Meredith Higgins, who represented Heidelberg students at the dedication, said the center is “a fantastic new addition to campus.”
“It is a reaffirmation of the holistic educational approach Heidelberg promotes,” she said. “It’s great to be able to fit physical fitness into a busy life at Heidelberg.”
From an academic perspective, the center becomes a working laboratory for students studying athletic training, health sciences and health and physical education, said Trevor Bates, associate dean of health sciences and director of the Athletic Training Education Program.
“Our students are getting valuable hands-on experiences in the classroom,” Bates said, extending his thanks to the more than 250 donors whose contributions made the center’s construction possible.
Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz, a 2008 Heidelberg alumnus, presented a proclamation from the city, and President Robert H. Huntington read one from Gov. John Kasich.
Huntington expressed his appreciation for the leadership of the Board of Trustees and Heidelberg’s partners in the design and construction process, The Design Collaborative and Thomas & Marker, the general contractor. He also thanked Heidelberg administrators who worked together to see the project through to completion. But primarily, he expressed deep gratitude for the Saurweins.
“They devoted their lives to being generous, kind-hearted people who made other people’s lives better,” Huntington said.
Heidelberg is collaborating with the YMCA to operate the facility, which will complement programming currently provided by the Y and strengthen a four-decade partnership between the two organizations.
Steve Crone, president and CEO of the Tiffin Community YMCA, said the partnership cements a long-standing relationship between the institutions that will endure for many more years. “We’re excited to offer programs to help students and the community promote healthy lifestyles,” said Crone. “We want to honor the commitment the donors have made – the commitment to healthy lifestyles that will continue for many years to come because of our partnership.”