Fitness Devotees Give Back

Long-running program inspires philanthropy, friendship and good health.

Fitness devotees give back to support Faculty of Kinesiology rehabilitation program. Harvey Rose has been to Las Vegas more times than he can count, but the visit he most vividly recalls is the one during which he was pushed along the Strip in a wheelchair. “I decided right then, ‘Nope, never again,’ ” says Rose, who, 22 years ago, at the age of 43, suffered a debilitating stroke following an elective surgery.

Five years later, Rose walked the Vegas Strip without assistance. He credits his recovery — and his ongoing strength and improved quality of life — to his 20-year participation in the University of Calgary’s Rehabilitation and Fitness Program for Persons with Disabilities. “I’ve been coming here twice a week since January, 1998, and it’s had a profound positive effect on my health,” says Rose. 

I’ve been coming here twice a week since Jan. 1998, and it’s had a profound positive effect on my health.

Harvey Rose   

The program, delivered through Kinesiology’s Active Living unit, started in 1989 and currently services 130 community members, as well as benefits students who volunteer or fulfill practicum hours for programs in kinesiology and community rehabilitation. Customized supervised exercise sessions enable individuals to attain their rehabilitative goals to maintain independence and improved quality of life.

The program cost to participants (a one-time $75 program design fee plus $205 per course) is kept affordable for every participant via a Scotiabank Endowment. Philanthropy — including a recent gift to the university’s Energize campaign from Rose and his wife, Hertha — also supports the maintenance and purchase of replacement work-out equipment and machinery. “This program has meant so much to me, and we wanted to give back so others can continue to benefit from it,” says Rose.

Fitness devotees give back to support Faculty of Kinesiology rehabilitation program

UCalgary honoured Hertha and Harvey Rose (left), and Ria and Marv Meloche at an event announcing each couple’s philanthropic support for the Rehabilitation and Fitness Program for Persons with Disabilities.

Another positive upshot of Rose’s long-standing attendance in the program is his enduring friendship with fellow participant Marvin Meloche. Like Rose, Meloche has devoted himself to a customized exercise routine twice a week, two hours at a time, for many years. While his MS combined with a heart issue makes a wheelchair necessary for him, Meloche has worked hard to develop strength in his legs and upper body to allow him to transfer more easily from his chair to bed, etc.

Just as important, he says, is that the program has given him confidence. “I couldn’t conceive of my life without this great program,” says Meloche. “It’s given me vitality and I’ve hardly missed a week in 17 years.” He and his wife, Ria, BFA’91, BA’93, have made legacy gifts as well as a gift to the program’s endowment fund to support its ongoing success.

For both men, the program provides an ongoing, meaningful social experience. Every Monday after their work-out, Meloche buys his friend a coffee at Brew and Blendz; Rose reciprocates on Wednesdays. “I know everyone’s name in the program, and we all support and encourage each other,” says Meloche. “We’re a family.”

Harvey Rose and Marvin Meloche contribution is part of the university’s ongoing fundraising campaign, Energize: The Campaign for Eyes High. The campaign is currently at $1.147 billion towards its overall goal of $1.3 billion.