On a typical Saturday, Seitz Arena at the Essentia Health Duluth Heritage Sports Center (EHDHSC) is packed with cheering fans and hard-working athletes.
On Saturday, however, the community gathered for a different kind of celebration: the unveiling of eight values banners, illustrated by Tim Cortes and made possible by community sponsors.
At 30 feet tall, the banners that now adorn the exterior of Essentia Health Duluth Heritage Sports Center are more like murals. The artwork represents each of the eight values that the center — and community — embody3. The values are teamwork, integrity, honor, hard work, commitment, sportsmanship, courage and dedication.
Patrick Francisco, chairman of the Duluth Heritage Sports Center Foundation, remarked on the importance of these values at the unveiling.
“Today, we boldly and intentionally proclaim our belief in the values that have built this place,” he said. “If you are from Duluth, if you’re an American, this stuff is in you. And it’s to be celebrated.”
These values are shared not only by the EHDHSC and its athletes, but also by the community, and the contributors that made the banners possible: Altec Industries, BendTec, The Jamar Company, maurices, Minnesota Wilderness, Minnesota Power, Republic Bank and United Piping, Inc.
At the unveiling, a representative from each contributing company took the opportunity to explain why these values are important to them, and in building kids for the future.
Craig Fellman, president of The Jamar Company, recounted the heroic acts of Mike Colalillo — the Duluthian, U.S. Army soldier and Congressional Medal of Honor winner who is illustrated on the Honor banner.
“Seeing Mike’s image emblazoned on this building is a strong reminder not only of what he did, but for all of us to live up to our word and honor our commitments,” Fellman said.
The ceremony was emceed by Ray Higgins, and started with an introduction by Dr. Anne Stephen, the East Region chief medical officer at Essentia Health. As a pediatrician, Dr. Stephen remarked on how critical these values are to youth.
“Kids need a place where they can see and experience the joy of hard work. The joy of teamwork, sportsmanship and dedication,” Dr. Stephen said, “They need a place where they can feel and witness the reward of compassion, commitment, honor and integrity. This is one of those places.”
U.S. Senator Al Franken was unable to attend, but had recorded a message for the audience in advance of the event. In a video shown at the unveiling, he extolled both Duluth and the EHDHSC for living these values.
“That’s what this place is all about: for kids to learn and internalize all of these values. So that this community continues the best traditions of our country, our state and of Duluth,” he said.
Following the presentation, guests were invited to a reception, where they had an opportunity to view the full-size banners. The eight banners were printed and installed by Lamar. This ceremony kicked off what is to be a full year of celebrations as the EHDHSC celebrates 10 years of success.
The year’s events will revolve around the idea of, “A Dream, A Decade, A Destiny.” The Essentia Health Duluth Heritage Sports Center started as a dream, and through the hard work of key supporters and community members, grew into a home for active youth. Ten years later, one thing has remained the same: the values that unite our community and the EHDHSC.
About the Essentia Health Duluth Heritage Sports Center
Built in 2007, the Essentia Health Duluth Heritage Sports Center (EHDHSC) is now a $20,000,000 multi-purpose community facility centered on building active youth and healthy lifestyles. The EHDHSC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that receives no public operating support, taxes or levies of any kind, including from the hotel/motel food and beverages tax. Bringing in hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, the EHDHSC is a significant economic driver for Duluth and an early contributor to the restoration and development of Lincoln Park.