Paul Albrechtsen – Our Major Benefactor
On January 30, 2006, the Centre reopened its doors following a $12 million expansion that left only one floor and the rear wall of the field house intact, and brought the total footprint of the Centre from 50,000 to 86,000 square feet.
The expansion was possible in large part because of Paul Albrechtsen, who generously donated more than $7 million to the budget for the new building.
Mr. Albrechtsen, a philanthropist and local businessman who owns one of the largest trucking and hauling businesses in Canada, spoke of his reasons for supporting the expansion at the launch of “Building Community Wellness,” the Reh-Fit’s Capital Campaign.
“In 1995, on Valentine’s Day, I had been feeling that I needed more exercise and I was running at the Reh-Fit Centre when I collapsed on the track and my heart went into fibrillation. If it had not been for the expeditious treatment of the staff team, who quickly gave me the paddles and brought me back, it could very easily have been fatal. That day, when I was admitted to the hospital, it was discovered that I had blockages in my coronary arteries.
“My dream is that more people can benefit from my experience by making their own personal commitment to healthy, active living earlier in their lives and avoid the life-threatening event I experienced. More importantly, I have turned this dream into a vision. My vision is to build a state-of-the-art community health and wellness centre in Winnipeg, a centre that will offer the very best possible health and wellness services to more Manitobans.”
Tom Dooley, then President of the Reh-Fit Board of Directors, said that, “Paul Albrechtsen was not only our main benefactor. He also helped develop the vision for our new home and spent countless hours working with the architect and construction consultants to make that vision a reality.”
Following Mr. Albrechtsen’s generous lead, many other donors supported the expansion and renovation, including 941 individuals, 77 corporations, foundations, and organizations, as well as the Canada-Manitoba Infrastructure Program and the City of Winnipeg. Sue Boreskie, CEO of the Reh-Fit Centre, said that, “Mr. Albrechtsen wanted only the best for us and for future members.” In addition to the latest equipment, great staff, and more than 300 health and fitness programs and services, “the best” takes the form of special features that encourage the community to visit the Centre to enjoy regular, healthy, active living—a portecochère for conveniently dropping people off, the multi-hued mosaic tile in the foyer, gently curving walls and hallways for a calming ambiance, the Heart Rock Café under an arched glass roof, and stunning walls of glass on the south and west sides of the field house for panoramic views of the outdoors.
Mr. Albrechtsen’s commitment to his vision of the Reh-Fit did not end when the Centre reopened following the expansion and renovation. In the years since then, he has continued to support the Centre. He was there with words of encouragement during the long process of preparing to meet the requirements for certification as a medical fitness centre, offered technical advice and guidance on keeping the building in great shape, and supported the Centre with generous donations and sponsorships of events.
When notification reached him that the Centre had achieved certification as Canada’s first medical fitness centre, he said he was happy to hear it.
“I take pride in knowing that I am lending a hand in the destiny of this great community institution, which is saving and enhancing the lives of thousands of Manitobans.”