Ground broken for $5.4 million Wellness Center
By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer
“This is a community that did it,” proudly stated Dan Kelly, CEO of the McKenzie County Healthcare Systems as ground was officially broken for the $5.4 million Connie Wold Wellness Center on Wednesday, Nov. 9.
“I could turn to several of you gathered here for this groundbreaking of the Connie Wold Wellness Center and say 'You did it,’” stated Kelly. “I might point to the mayor or to the chair of our county commissioners or perhaps board members of the McKenzie County Healthcare Systems or Benefit Fund, or to Kristin or to members of the Wold family. But the fact of the matter is that when we occupy this great facility about one year from today we again will be seen as the community that can.”
The new Connie Wold Wellness Center is more than a workout facility. It is a culmination of efforts that strove to honor a woman whose life honored Watford City and touched the lives of its residents.
“Connie not only believed in fitness and lived that out in her life, but she believed in everyone’s ability to be more physically fit,” states Tricia Sundeen, manager of the Healthy Hearts Wellness Center, which was started by Wold in 1992.
Before the Healthy Hearts Wellness Center existed, Wold would hold aerobics classes in the basement of the McKenzie County Bank. It was her belief in fitness that led her to start a wellness center in Watford City and to encourage its residents to live fit lives, and ultimately, change their lives.
However, that building soon became outdated and started to not meet the needs of the community.
A year prior to Wold’s passing in a tragic bicycle-truck accident as Wold was training for her third Iron Man Triathlon, efforts began to raise money for the wellness center in Watford City, but people just didn’t seem interested.
“I was just about ready to give up,” Sundeen states. “Then all of a sudden, there was a community interest. It was like Connie’s passing really motivated people to give to her for what she had given to the community.”
According to Kristin Bolken, director of the Benefit Fund of the McKenzie County Healthcare Systems, the community’s response to the idea of raising support for the wellness center in honor of Connie Wold was overwhelming.
“The community response was so favorable to the idea that it encouraged us to keep going,” Bolken states.
Interestingly enough, another thing began happening around Watford City - the town grew.
“When I took over the wellness center three years ago, we averaged less than 30 members using the facility a day,” states Sundeen. “Now, a slow day is around 70.”
Classes began filling up, waiting lines began forming to use the workout equipment, and the workout room became crowded at all hours of the day.
“People could see it is definitely something our community needed, because we had more than outgrown what we had,” Sundeen states.
Now that the need was growing and money was coming in, the healthcare system had to put a plan in place.
“We initially looked at the idea of renovating an existing building,” Bolken states.
Through the ups and downs of exploring different ideas, the planners decided to start from scratch and build new.
“Our initial concept was smaller, but when we presented it to the city, they told us it would be too small,” states Bolken.
With land for the new wellness center being donated by the healthcare system and through encouragement and funding from the healthcare system, the City of Watford City, the McKenzie County Commissioners, the Roughrider Fund, and area businesses and residents, the initial plan of building a 12,200-square foot building has grown to today’s plan of 20,000 square feet with the option to add on in the future.
The Connie Wold Wellness Center will have a large workout area with cardio and strength-training equipment, three free-weight stations, a designated aerobics room and a designated spinning room, the fastest growing cardio class at the wellness center.
Suspended above the workout area will be a jogging/walking track spanning the length of the building. Also located on the second floor will be additional workout equipment.
The lower level of the facility is reserved for the physical therapy department and it will include an endless pool to be shared with the workout facility.
The main floor will also have an unsupervised childcare room dedicated to the memory of Amy Svihovec.
Svihovec, who died in a motor vehicle accident in November of 2009, three months after Connie Wold’s death, worked at the wellness center where she dedicated her time and energy to watching children at the Healthy Hearts Wellness Center while their parents worked out.
“One of the really great things about this wellness center is that it is a partnership of all of the community,” states Bolken. “From businesses to children, people have invested in this project in some way, and they have a personal stake in it.”
While the Benefit Fund is still in the process of raising the final $800,000 to complete the project, Kelly is confident that the fundraising goal will be met in the near future.
“The Connie Wold Wellness Center will be one more bright star in the North Dakota sky that is known as Watford City,” stated Kelly. “For years to come, we, our children and our grandchildren will be able to benefit from the foresight that is being celebrated today.”