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Major Donations to Red Deer College help to "Shape our Future"

Submitted by
Jasmine Nelson

This story originally appeared on RDC News on September 18, 2015

It was a significant and meaningful show of support for Red Deer College on Friday, as a combined $8 million in donations were announced at a special event in the Arts Centre.

The donations were made in support of RDC’s Centre for Health, Wellness & Sport, scheduled for groundbreaking later this fall.
The series of gifts included the largest single donation the College has ever received, a $5 million gift from Gary Harris, whose philanthropy is playing an essential role in the next chapter of RDC’s growth.
“The generosity our College has received from supporters such as Gary Harris brings us that much closer to our vision in serving our learners. Being the beneficiary of Mr. Harris’ trust and philanthropy not only makes us very grateful but truly honoured,” says Shelley Ralston, Chair of the RDC Board of Governors.
“Mr. Harris’ longstanding personal involvement in community building, coupled with his success as a business owner and entrepreneur will be reflected in this legacy. We are very excited for what this means for our future and the learners and communities we serve,” adds Ralston.
In recognition of his extraordinary generosity, the new state-of-the-art facility will bear his name. The Gary W. Harris Centre for Health, Wellness & Sport will provide vital new teaching and learning spaces, and will offer  our region a comprehensive venue for athletic, recreational and community activities for the promotion of health and wellness.
“When I became aware of the wide-ranging impact of this facility, and what it means for the future of our College and the citizens of Red Deer and central Alberta, I wanted to do my part in making it a reality. It’s very encouraging to see the direction that we are headed in this community, and I am excited to see it all unfold,” says Harris.
The new Centre will strengthen RDC’s case for Polytechnic University status, which would allow the institution to grant its own degrees. The facility will also play a key role in ensuring renowned programs within RDC’s School of Health Sciences maintain certain accreditations and standards, ensuring our learners are provided the up-to-date tools and resources they need for their training.
Adding to the excitement of the day was the announcement of Hockey Alberta’s long-term strategic investment of $1.5 million in support of the new Centre which will act as their new provincial training centre and head office, and will be used for enhanced branding, programming and events.
The event also honoured investments by the Lacombe County which has donated $1 million, and Red Deer County which has donated $500,000.
“It’s a privilege to live in a region where so many understand the value of RDC and what our College contributes to economic, social and cultural growth in central Alberta. It is with this generous support, investing in amazing new facilities and toward student success, that we will continue to make a tremendous impact in the prosperity and well-being of our region,” says RDC’s President and CEO Joel Ward.
Plans for the new Centre became a reality when it was announced that Red Deer would be hosting the 2019 Canada Winter Games. RDC is an official venue partner for the Games, for the sports of Squash and Short Track Speed Skating, and will also host of the Athletes’ Village.
The new Gary W. Harris Centre for Health, Wellness & Sport will provide much more to RDC, the city of Red Deer and the Central Alberta region in the years that follow this exciting Canadian event. The Centre will be open to the public and will create new partnership opportunities for the College, allowing for increased promotion of healthy lifestyle development to all central Albertans. Initial site work is scheduled to begin this fall, with major construction commencing in early 2016.
RDC has convened a group of experienced community volunteers to help us connect with individual and corporate donors who share the vision of all this new facility will accomplish. Led by Honourary Chair MaryAnne Jablonski, and Co-Chairs Holly Dickson and Tim Wiltzen, volunteers and RDC  administration and staff will work together to raise $25 million over the next four years to fully fund the new Centre. The project is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2018.
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