Oberhelmans give $1M to wellness center

For The Weekly Post

Doug and Diane Oberhelman are donating $1 million towards a matching grant for a proposed community wellness center on the north edge of Elmwood. Photo by Jeff Lampe.

ELMWOOD – Momentum for a community wellness center and YMCA north of the city received a substantial boost Monday thanks to Doug and Diane Oberhelman.

The Oberhelmans, residents of Edwards who own reclaimed strip-mine land south of Elmwood, announced they are donating $1 million toward a matching grant for the proposed 33,000 -square-foot facility to be built north of Graham Medical Group’s Elmwood clinic.

“Rural communities are the backbone of our country,” said Doug Oberhelman, former Caterpillar Inc. CEO. “Supporting this project for the rural communities where we call home is very meaningful to Diane and me.”

The Oberhelmans met Monday with members of the Elmwood Community Foundation Board of Directors to formally announce their gift, which also serves as the kickoff of a public fundraising effort.

“The success of Graham Medical Group, in bringing primary and specialty health care to the region, and drawing patients from over 200 distinct ZIP codes is simply remarkable,” Diane Oberhelman said. “The economic impact and the tremendous quality of life enhancements for this region will pay dividends for generations to come. Doug and I are very proud to wholeheartedly support this project.”

A total of $7.2 million of the $12.5 million estimated construction cost has now been raised, according to ECF Board Member Micki McCarthy.

“More people are seeing the progress. The public opinion is shifting from, ‘You really think you can do it?’ to, ‘My goodness, this is really going to happen,’” said McCarthy, who presented recently to attendees at the annual Elmwood Alumni Banquet. “It is our goal for this to be a 2025 construction project.”

While that’s one year later than a sign in front of the project location currently says, McCarthy said it is a minor edit for a project of this size.

“We realize this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something for our rural communities,” she said. “The ECF Board wants at the end of this year to be able to say ‘2025 Construction, Opening 2026.’”

McCarthy recently retired from the OSF Healthcare Foundation and has spent 24 years in fundraising for higher education and healthcare. She had a primary role in helping raise money for the Claude W. Keefer Industrial Arts Building at Elmwood High School and has brought a similar approach to the wellness center project.

“All kind of gifts will be eligible for this matching grant. Gifts of stock, grain, IRA rollovers, all of that is eligible for this match,” McCarthy said.

The ECF is close to finalizing an online giving option on its website elmwoodcf.org and at www.imaginecwc.org.

The ECF also recently announced it would dedicate a lending library and reading space in the main social area of the wellness center in honor of Elmwood native Karl Taylor, who has been a driving force behind the project.