Ames family donates $3 million to Healthy Life Center


Talon Delaney/Iowa State Daily

Mary and Richard Fitch beside a check for $3 million made out to the Healthy Life Center.

Talon Delaney

The Ames Healthy Life Center is gaining more momentum in the community, as community members Mary and Richard Fitch donated $3 million dollars to the campaign.

The donation was announced at 10 a.m. during a press conference May 24 in the Speer Room of Reiman Gardens.

“We feel fortunate to give back to the community,” Richard Fitch said. “We hope the $3 million will spur other people and get them to donate.”

This isn’t the first large-scale donation made by the Fitch family. Mary Fitch’s parents, Don and Ruth Furman, donated $2 million to the aquatic center that shares their name today.

“When they [Don and Ruth] made their donation, $1 million went to construction and another million went to future repairs,” Mary Fitch said. “When it was all said and done, they still needed another $1 million, so that’s how we arrived at the figure of $3 million.”

This donation is the largest one so far. Like the Furmans, Mary and Richard Fitch’s donation will go to the construction of the proposed aquatic center inside the Healthy Life Center. 

Richard Fitch is the owner of Furman Realty in Ames, formerly owned by Mary’s father.

Discussions about the Healthy Life Center began in 2016, and advocates for the center recently hosted public forums around Ames where community members learned about the center and asked questions. The Healthy Life Center is estimated to cost $48.7 million dollars, $18.2 million of which is expected to come from philanthropic donations.

The press release states that once the $18.2 million is met, “the City of Ames will hold a bond referendum” to raise $17 million for the Healthy Life Center. Remaining funds will come from Story City, Mary Greeley Medical Center and Heartland Senior Services.

The press conference was led by former Ames Mayor Ann Campbell, who, along with former Iowa State faculty Warren and Beverly Madden, is in charge of the philanthropic organization of the Healthy Life Center campaign.

“We [Warren and Bev and I] have a shared optimism about this project,” Campbell said. “We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t have high hopes, and we’ve been very pleased with the enthusiasm we’ve seen generated lately.”

“The community needs it [the Healthy Life Center],” Richard Fitch said. “There’s not a lot of facilities out there that can offer what this will be able to.”