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Minnesota West Director of Facilities Jeff Harms (left) gives a tour to Minnesota West coaches and partners on Wednesday in conjunction with the Minnesota West Foundation fundraising campaign.

Fundraising campaign for MW gym kicks off

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news Worthington, 56187
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WORTHINGTON -- To support the new Center for Health and Wellness on the Worthington Campus of Minnesota West, the Minnesota West Foundation is conducting a fundraising campaign for furniture, fixtures and equipment needed to complete the project.

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Jim Smalley, Minnesota West Foundation director, said the goal was set high, and any extra funds raised will go toward future projects.

"We hope it is more than we need at this time, but then the money will be set aside within the foundation to be used for future projects within athletics and the (new) building," he said.

The fundraising efforts have started out strong through large donations from Worthington Federal Savings Bank and the Nasers and Kruger families.

"It's an excellent start when we're just getting out to start talking with people this week," Smalley said.

Minnesota West coaches will play an active role in the fundraising and partner with community volunteers to meet with possible donors.

"We haven't set a timeline on how long (the fundraising) is going to take though. It will depend on the schedules of our volunteers and coaches," Smalley said.

As part of the fundraiser, the college is offering naming opportunities for donors for multiple rooms and offices within the building, including the home and visiting men's and women's locker rooms, the trophy case, conference room and concessions.

Minnesota West Foundation anticipates many people will get involved in the project, and it was suggested that alumni classes or former sports teams may want to pool their resources to reach a specific giving level.

He added that there is an option to spread donations over a three-year period.

With the new facility, Minnesota West will provide an additional incentive for students who are considering attending the college.

"With the addition of being able to bring in student athletes, having the facility will be a big incentive to have them come," said Men's Basketball Head Coach Justin Heckenlaible. "Obviously we also have our fans and our staff and our students (who) will have a better experience in the gym and also in the classrooms. The learning experience will be enhanced. Everything will be up-to-date. The building hasn't been touched since 1969. It's going to be a much enhanced experience.

"We're bringing (the building) up to standard. It needed to be done to enhance the recruitment portion of getting student athletes here and giving them opportunities with a better facility, to give them a better workout facility," he added.

Smalley added that while many prospective students have family members who have also played at Minnesota West, a new facility will entice more than family tradition.

"Nostalgia will get you only so far. Saying I played on this same floor and your aunts and uncles played on this very same floor 30, 40 years ago -- that's not the same thing as saying this is a new building, a new facility," he added with a laugh.

While the primary use of the building will be for ath-letics, the facility will also be used for the law enforcement program for training and weightlifting.

"For our program, we see it as bringing in fresh equipment and a fresh look into the program and a safe environment for our students," Law Enforcement Program Coordinator Mark Holden said.

The building will also benefit the community through the numerous events that take place there throughout the year. While the group plans to first approach Minnesota West alumni, Smalley said he hopes this will be a community effort and stressed the benefit the new facility will be to the community.

In spite of the recent inclement weather, Director of Facilities and Project Manager Jeff Harms said the renovations and construction should still be completed by the original Oct. 1 date. While the increased precipitation has delayed the pouring of the cement for the gym floor, Harms said he believes they should be able to make up the lost time.

For more information or to give a donation, contact Jim Smalley, 376-3475, or (507) 223-1329.

Daily Globe Reporter Alyson Buschena may be reached at 376-7322.

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