By Ryan Teller – Lincoln, Nebraska … One morning while shaving, Rich Reiner made a discovery that proved to be a wakeup call. “I found a bump on my neck,” he said. “That shouldn’t be there.”

At the age of 39 with three young children, he was shocked when a barrage of medical tests determined he had Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma with a less than desirable long-term prognosis.

That was more than 30 years ago.

“It was a wake up call,” said Reiner. He and his wife, Lynnet, who live in Florida, began to place a greater emphasis on their health — both changing their diet and becoming much more intentional about exercise.

The couple continued to grow their commitment to fitness as their kids grew up and then into retirement. Lynnet runs the Walt Disney World Marathon every January as well as various half marathons, and the couple love to hike, bike, and ski.

“I have joked with many people about trying to keep up with my wife,” Reiner said. “I do my best.” In addition to the marathons, Lynnet enjoys adding Colorado 14ers to her list of mountains hiked. During the pandemic, they have increased their biking mileages and are enjoying doing rail trails in different states. And they continue to ski every winter in Colorado as well as Switzerland and Italy with a trip planned to Austria this winter.

“We both have a commitment to staying healthy so we can ski with our grandchildren,” he said.

The couple have also long been supporters of Union College, the place where they met. Rich has served on the Board of Trustees for 20 years, and the couple established an endowment fund for student scholarships. But Union’s plans to build an expanded wellness center felt personal.

After Rich retired from Adventist Health System (now AdventHealth), Union asked him to serve as interim CFO for several months in 2016. “I stayed in one of the guest rooms,” he remembered. “For years I had gone to the gym every morning, so I went to the Larson Lifestyle Center to exercise. I was not impressed with the facilities.”

Sweating on old workout equipment crowded into small spaces that were not adequately cooled, he thought to himself, “I think we can do better than this.”

So he and Lynnet championed what would ultimately become the Fit for the Future fundraising campaign to build an expanded wellness center at Union College.

Reiner now serves as the campaign chair, and the couple gave a leadership gift for the Reiner Wellness Center inside the new AdventHealth Complex which will nearly triple the size of the current Larson Lifestyle Center.

The couple both grew up on small farms in the midwest with limited resources, but throughout Rich’s career, first working in higher education and then healthcare, the couple invested wisely, including building and purchasing rental properties when they lived in Lincoln after college. “We’ve been blessed financially beyond our wildest dreams,” he said. “We both feel it is important to give back to society and those who come after us.”

Now they are giving some of those properties to Union to help make the project a reality. This becomes a win-win, because the tax consequences for the Reiners can be minimized with the financial benefits going to the Fit for the Future project.

The couple believes in the importance of wellness and hopes to pass that value on to college students as they form their own priorities and life goals. “This project really resonates with us and our values. That’s why I’ve gone all in on our fundraising,” said Rich. “It is really important for us to give back to the college where we both had four great years. We believe this is a project whose time has come.”

Learn more about the Fit for the Future campaign here.

— Ryan Teller is public relations and marketing director for Union College; photo supplied

This article was originally published on the North American Division website