Center to kick off public fund raising

Most of the center’s donations have come from foundations.
Thursday, April 28, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:38 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

After nearly 14 years in the making, the Health Adventure Center will make its final push for the money it needs to open next year.

The interactive health-education center will kick off its community campaign on May 22. To date, the center has raised more than $3.7 million of its $5.2 million goal, said campaign spokeswoman Wendy Knorr. The center’s board of directors and its capital campaign committee have been raising cash for the past 18 months, she said. Most of the money has come from larger foundations and organizations.

“Now we’re taking the campaign to the community at large,” she said, as fund-raising efforts will also become more visible. The “Get Ready, GET FIT, Go” campaign will feature several public events. A health fair will be part of the June 9 Twilight Festival, and the campaign is planning others.

Knorr said the Health Adventure Center is in the “preconstruction” phase. Crews have demolished many of the building’s interior walls, removed asbestos and necessary equipment and eliminated drop ceilings to reveal the original 30-foot ceilings. Construction and the outfitting of specific exhibits will begin in the late summer.

The center will feature interactive exhibits on topics including the body, the mind, the immune system, healthy relationships and health emergencies.

“The designs for the exhibits are evolving as we speak,” Knorr said.

The exhibits will allow visitors to interactively answer questions, such as how the body uses energy or what constitutes healthy food choices. Board Vice Chairman Glenn McElroy said plans include a model emergency department and a “command room” introduction to the human immune system.

“There was a long list of reasons for building this center,” McElroy said. “The most important was the desire to lay out healthy choices and identify risky behaviors in a fun and interesting way.”

The exhibits will be aimed at visitors of all ages; Knorr expects half of them to be children. A study conducted by Geheke and Associates projected 50,000 visitors each year. McElroy said there will be special programs for adults and educators.

The Health Adventure Center was given the 30,000-square-foot historic Federal Building on Cherry Street, valued at $1.4 million, in September 2003. The U.S. Department of Education awarded the structure to the center.

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