Ribbon Cut

Fitness Court Grand Opening Ribbon Cut and Launch Party enjoys a tremendous turnout

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[November 12, 2018]  Thursday morning a massive crowd arrived at the new city of Lincoln/Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital Fitness Court for the grand opening ribbon cut and launch party.

The Fitness Court located in the 200 block of Eighth Street in Lincoln sits on the former site of ALMH. When ALMH and its companion health care providers looked into the future a few years ago they became aware that the long standing hospital was not going to be able to meet the needs of the community in the years ahead. Investing in bringing the building up to new modern specifications and enhancing existing technology was going to be costly and would still not provide all that was needed to see the hospital thrive through the 21st Century.

The decision was made to build a new facility on the city’s west side and when it was completed the old ALMH was demolished. The empty lot was then given to the city of Lincoln. From the start the city knew that it wanted to provide something for the community that would pay homage to the overall mission of ALMH – wellness. However, at that time money was tight for the city, and while the desire was there the ability to finance a big project was not there.

Fast Forward to 2018, and a city council meeting where that Angela Stoltzenburg of the ALMH Community Health Collaborative came to the city with an idea. A movement called the National Fitness Campaign was working to encourage communities to erect outdoor fitness courts that would be free, hosted in open to the public areas where a variety of exercises could be performed utilizing simple, but effective exercise equipment and methods.

The ALMH Foundation was prepared to foot the lion’s share of the cost for building a fitness court, and wanted the city to provide the space on the old ALMH site, and to assume some maintenance after the court was finished. Stoltzenburg estimated the project would cost approximately $150,000.  The ALMH Foundation would cover $140,000 and Stoltzenburg said they were hopeful for a $10,000 grant from FitRadio for the balance.

Since that conversation, work continued steadily to bring the court to the community by August 16th. The installation at the court included concrete construction, sidewalks, landscaping, a special rubberized mat, and of course, the exercise equipment.

On Thursday morning, right on target, a grand opening ribbon cut and launch party was held at the new Fitness Mat. The first one hundred people to arrive at the celebration received a free Fitness Court tee-shirt. In the crowd a number of people took the tee-shirts but some opted not to. At the end of the day only one shirt remained, telling ALMH and the city that more than 100 people had come out for the launch.

In the crowd there were a number of people from ALMH, students and faculty from Lincoln College, several city of Lincoln and Logan County officials, and a couple of special guests including Illinois Representative Tim Butler and Logan County Fair Queen Molly Schempp and Little Miss Kylee Fulk. The Queen and Little Miss arrived in their workout clothes and were ready to take on the court as soon as it was opened to the public.

The first item on the agenda was a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by Lincoln Daily News. The event was emceed by Nila Smith with Karen Hargis and Roy Logan manning the ribbon and assisting in getting guests lined up for the cut.

After a brief welcome and acknowledge of the many guests on hand, the microphone was turned over to ALMH Director Dolan Dalpoas.

Dalpoas began by offering “Kudos” to the city of Lincoln for joining in the partnership to promote exercise and wellness within the community. He thanked all who had a role in bringing the court to Lincoln and congratulated those who had worked on the project for their tremendous success.

Dalpoas said he was excited to see the court in use, and he too planned to be coming out and use it. He noted that he was excited to see the community take advantage as well. He noted that in the morning he had seen a large number of friends and supporters of ALMH and he was thankful for and to all of them for their continued support of the efforts of the hospital.

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He finished by saying, “this is not the beginning of the stuff we have done to promote health and wellness; this is not the end of the things we are doing to promote health and wellness in our community. This is but one more step along the way to creating a culture of health in Lincoln and Logan County and ultimately making our community the healthiest in the nation.”

Lincoln Mayor Seth Goodman was then handed the microphone. Goodman began by returning thanks to the hospital. He said he recalled the first day Angela Stoltzenburg reached out to him with the idea. He said he thought it was a great idea and he was thankful that everyone on the city council had agreed. He then said he would like to thank Stoltzenburg, as well as Dolan and everyone else involved from ALMH for bringing the court to town. He asked for a round of applause for ALMH.

Goodman went on to say. “As someone who has struggled with weight and health my entire life, this is a huge benefit to the city of Lincoln and I sincerely hope that everyone will take advantage of it.”

When the microphone was handed back to Smith, she noted that in the crowd there were many people wearing tee-shirts that said ‘ambassador’ on the back. Smith said according to Stoltzenburg there are more than 40 such ambassadors, all volunteers who have spent time learning how to use the equipment and will serve as instructor/mentors working with people to assist them in learning how to use the equipment safely and effectively.

After pictures, the count down to the cut took place with the entire crowd joining in as Mayor Goodman did the honors of snipping the ribbon.

Stoltzenburg then introduced the lead ambassadors who would be demonstrating the use of the equipment. Among those were Lincoln College student athletes and a representative from one of the local gyms. The demonstration went through how to use each piece of equipment, then the group went right into the fitness challenge. Again done by the ambassadors, each one had 15 seconds to workout at each station, doing as many repetitions as possible. After the challenge the court was then opened up to everyone, with the ambassadors on hand to assist first-timers in how to use the equipment.

In past weeks, the city of Lincoln designated the old ALMH location as an official city park. This was done so that a curfew for the fitness court could be established and enforced by the Lincoln Police Department. Generally speaking the Fitness Court is open to the public seven days a week from daylight to dark.

There is a recommended age limit on the equipment, but it has been noted that there are many items on the mat that are safe even for younger children with parental supervision.


Fitness Court sees lots of interest on Opening Day

Crowds surround court to see demonstrations and first fitness challenge

[Nila Smith]

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