MARION — A crowd gathered at the Marion Family YMCA on Thursday to celebrate the end of a five-month project that saw around 2,000 square-feet being added to the wellness center.
It marked the first expansion to the exercise space since it opened in 2004. It had become crowded over the years with an influx of new members and equipment.
Now open to the public, officials with the Y say it will give members more space to stretch, lift weights and do their individual workouts.
The approximately $500,000 project started with a question from longtime member Don Witte, after noticing the wellness center was near max-capacity.
The Y currently has 7,816 members and on average the facility on Barks Road East sees around 220,000 visitors a year. Theresa Lubke, the executive director for the Marion Y, said around half will use the wellness center.
In February 2018, Witte had approached a staff member asking if it would be “both financially and structurally feasible to expand.”
After being told it could happen if enough money was raised, he decided to make a large donation, which covered roughly 80 percent of the total cost.
He said it was the best way to show his appreciation for the organization. Trainers with the Y have been a great help to him and his wife Cara, as she experiences health issues.
“They have worked with her for over five years. We were able to postpone making some life changing decisions,” Don Witte said on Thursday.
Construction began over the summer, with four openings being added to the existing exterior wall. From there, construction crews built on the surrounding grass area.
Lubke said the addition includes new equipment such as running machines, benches and a barbell rack.
The project also saw the creation of the OhioHealth Wellness Room, which will offer physical therapy and similar services.
Curtis Gingrich, the COO of Marion General Hospital, said around 8 to 10 employees will be seeing patients there on a regular basis.
By contributing to the project, he said it was an opportunity for the health network to continue to expand services out in the community.
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