By Ryan Cornell
Before starting construction on the 15-meter long, 33,000-gallon swimming pool in place of the former Delco Cinemas in Winchester, Body Renew Fitness owner Jeremy Wright made a pledge.
A percentage of every new membership at the gym would go toward a charitable donation for the Winchester-based Boys & Girls Club of Northern Shenandoah Valley until the pool was finally opened.
Construction, which started last January and was estimated to last a total of six months, ended up taking a full year to complete due to moisture issues and submitting plans for re-approval. The gym recorded its highest number of new memberships in those 12 months. As a result, the donation amount kept racking up.
On Saturday, the gym hosted its grand opening of the swimming pool and Wright presented local Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Heather Forman with a $51,000 check.
Wright said they were looking for a charity and wanted to give back to the community.
"We never did anything that was that major and started researching charities to support. We wanted to make a big difference publicly for one organization," he said. "We chose the Boys & Girls Club because we wanted to get involved with youth and promote fitness at a young age."
Forman said the funds will be used for ongoing programs, including those with a health and life skills and a sports fitness and recreation component, two of the club's five core areas.
"It costs us $1,000 each day to run the program," she said. "What Jeremy's gift is can translate to a 51-day commitment he just gave the club, a 51-day gift."
Wright, who has served on the club's board of directors for the past two years, said that Body Renew Fitness is donating the space at its sportsplex location this April for the Boys & Girls Club fundraising party as well as equipment for an auction. The gym was a key sponsor for the club's golf tournament last summer, he added.
He said the saltwater pool, which is "less harsh on clothes and skin," will be used for three primary functions.
"In March, we'll be offering water aerobics classes," he said. "There will be family swim times, where people with a family membership can bring in their kids to swim. And the pool will be used for swimming laps."
Members of the local Boys & Girls Club were among the first to test out the waters at a pool party following the grand opening.
"We just wanted to give back to the community that's been so generous with us," Wright said, adding that they plan to dedicate a plaque to all past and present Body Renew Fitness members and staff since opening in 2008.
The Boys & Girls Club of Northern Shenandoah Valley serves nearly 400 kids a year ages 6 to 18.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or email@example.com