The Petro Family Exercise Centre
October 24, 2019
Windsor, ON - “The Petro family is more than just those of us who are biologically related. It includes our friends and the cardiac wellness and event staff – both past and present – and their family and friends; It’s those who’ve received care and are giving back and it’s community partners who recognize the need for what we are doing. It includes every single person who has helped us along the way reach the point we are at today.”
A week after HDGH’s Rehabilitation and Wellness Centre was officially renamed The Petro Family Exercise Centre, serving our cardiac and pulmonary patients, Jason Petro is still in awe and wants to share this accomplishment with everyone who helped make his dream a reality.
In 1993 Jason and his family lost their Father to a heart attack while recovering in hospital from a stroke. It was that tragic, unexpected life event that pushed Jason and his family to make significant life changes. Having completed a degree in Human Kinetics, Jason knew the importance of exercise and healthy living and persuaded the other Petros to take better care of themselves. They agreed.
It was at that time that Jason also knew that he wanted to focus his career on cardiac care and helping those in our community facing this common illness. He jumped heart first by proposing a new cardiac rehab program for Windsor-Essex, which at the time, had no government funding. With knowledge from his schooling and trips to Toronto and Ottawa cardiac programs, Jason’s persistence and dedication was rewarded with new Ministry Funding to hire a team to carry out a six-month cardiac rehab program in our community. While this funding was critical, he still had a vision and felt that Windsor deserved to have a state-of-the-art exercise facility to support these patients for years to come.
Eight-teen years later, Jason and the Petro family’s dream is a reality. But it didn’t happen over night.
In 2000, Jason’s fundraising efforts began with a 5 km run/walk along the riverfront. The event raised no more than $1,500, and the Petros were ecstatic.
For the next decade, the run/walk continued and steadily increased funds collected. More events came to fruition: Fashion Shows, Car Rallies, Golf Tournaments, along with various community donations; the team checked every nook and cranny for ways to raise money. And raise they did.
Upon realignment in 2013, Jason and his team had raised significant funds earmarked for Cardiac Services at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare.
As their current events reached their fundraising potential, Jason knew they needed to come up with something new and a suggestion surfaced. So, the Petro brothers piled into a car and travelled down to Indiana to check out the hot new trend in the event world: Tough Mudder. They were instantly inspired and were up for the challenge to bring such an event back home to Windsor. Let the planning begin!
From designing the route in Malden Park, building course obstacles, organizing parking, to managing registration, event photography, and coordinating the logistics of over 1,500 participants Getting Fit, Getting Dirty, and Giving Back, the Petros have since grown the Heart Breaker Challenge to the annual six-figure fundraising initiative that it is today. The success of the Heart Breaker Challenge, along with other generous donors, including Estates, helped complete and pay off the $1.6 million dollar state-of-the-art exercise facility at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare in 2016, bringing the Petro family’s total raised close to one-million dollars.
We would once again like to extend our sincerest thanks to Jason, his wife, children, brothers, sister, and every other extended member of the Petro family for the work that they have accomplished. Your determination to Changing Lives Together is inspiring. As they say in Heart Breaker: “Challenge Accepted!”