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$12 million dollar fitness center for kids with autism breaking ground Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
SAN ANSELMO, CA - MARCH 14: Class participants warm up with a bar bell during a CrossFit workout at Ross Valley CrossFit on March 14, 2014 in San Anselmo, California. CrossFit, a high intensity workout regimen that is a constantly varied mix of aerobic exercise, gymnastics and Olympic weight lifting, is one of the fastest growing fitness programs in the world. The grueling cult-like core strength and conditioning program is popular with firefighters, police officers, members of the military and professional athletes. Since its inception in 2000, the number of CrossFit affiliates, or "boxes" has skyrocketed to over 8,500 worldwide with more opening every year. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Easterseals launched a fundraising campaign of $12 million dollars to create it’s own state-of-the-art fitness center for a neighborhood and its own students with autism. It broke ground on the facility Wednesday.

The center will be 26,000-square-feet and will serve as an addition to the nonprofit’s Chicago-area headquarters at the Terrence J. Hancock Family Campus which provides therapeutic education for 120 children and 30 adults with autism spectrum disorder and other special needs throughout the Easterseals Academy.

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The fitness center will include a gymnasium and running track, fitness area and auditorium with a stage. Thanks to Clune Construction, the company building the center, it will open to the public on evenings and weekends, next summer.

About a year ago, Easterseals decided it could wait no longer to build the fitness center. When building the remainder of the campus, due to funds drying out during the recession, the project was delayed – according to CEO Tim Muri.

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Easterseals will deliver a facility that meets the community needs, thanks to having time to reflect on its plans – said Muri.

“We knew our kids deserved this, so we said let’s roll up our sleeves and do it,” said Muri. “So when we open the doors [on the fitness center], it will be the culmination of a dream we had 15 years ago.”

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