ADA — A $100,000 gift to the East Central University Foundation Inc. from a 2005 ECU Distinguished Alumnus will ensure the continuing “fitness” of the university’s Wellness Center.

Interest from the endowment provided by Dr. Tommy Hewett and his wife, Cheryl, will be used to repair and replace exercise equipment

In response to the gift, ECU officials have dedicated the center as the Tommy Hewett, M.D., Wellness Center.

“The Wellness Center has been a very popular place for ECU students and faculty and people in Ada since the first day we opened it in 1997,” said Dr. Bill Cole, ECU president. “This is a wonderful gift because it will allow us to maintain the quality of the equipment we have and to continue to offer a great facility to the university and the community.”

Holly Christian, wellness center director, said an average of 1,000 people use the center each week. The cardiovascular equipment is the most popular and has a shorter life span than other exercise equipment, she said, which means it breaks down more often.

The endowment, she said, will provide better maintenance of current equipment and allow the center to purchase higher quality pieces and place all cardiovascular equipment on a five-year replacement rotation.

Hewett graduated with honors from ECU in 1967, majoring in chemistry with minors in mathematics and biology. He received a medical degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1971and later joined the Baptist Medical Center staff in Oklahoma City as an associate pathologist. He is board certified in anatomic pathology and in hematology, a sub-specialty of pathology.

Hewett founded Diagnostic Pathology Services in 1983 and in 1985 started a clinical lab, Baptist Medical Plaza Laboratory, in partnership with Baptist Hospital. He was its medical director for 14 years and also was chairman of the hospital’s department of pathology and director of clinical laboratories. He also has been a clinical professor of pathology at the OU Health Sciences Center

After several ownership changes, Baptist Medical Plaza Laboratory is now Diagnostic Laboratory of Oklahoma, which has a location in Ada.

Today, Hewett is managing director of AmeriPath Oklahoma, a provider of anatomic pathology and molecular diagnostics, which acquired his Diagnostic Pathology Services five years ago. He now concentrates more on the oversight of the business than pathology.

Hewett Wellness Center is operated by ECU’s Center of Continuing Education and Community Services. One of its peak operating times is when the center opens – at 6 a.m. on weekdays. Christian said the endowment will give the added benefit of having more equipment available for patrons to use during the peak times.

In addition to cardiovascular equipment, it also has Cybex machines, free weights, two racquetball courts, a basketball gym, indoor jogging track, swimming pool, dressing rooms and space for exercise classes. Group exercise classes include power yoga, kickboxing, stability ball, step and interval training. Fitness assessments, evaluations, personal training and pool parties are available.

For enrollment rates or more information, contact the Hewett Wellness Center at (580) 310-5744.