From the Founders PerspectiveOctober 27, 2017
The Fortius Foundation was created in 2004 when Scott Cousens and his family committed to making a lead donation of $23 million, the single largest philanthropic gift in Canadian sport history. The Foundation bought the land and built the facility that is at the heart of Fortius Sport & Health and enhanced it with leading-edge equipment and technologies.
The ongoing role of the foundation is simple: to fund and support world-class sport and exercise medicine and science facilities, programs and other initiatives centered on collaborative research, education and innovation.
The Foundation has since had many exciting accomplishments and successes, and we had the chance to sit down with Founder Scott Cousens to learn more about the past, present and future of the Foundation, from his perspective.
- What fueled you to personally support this project?
When my youngest son started playing sports, it became clear to me that in the 20 years since I had been in the sports system, there hadn’t been any significant changes in the way sport science, medicine and athlete development was delivered. Most practitioners were siloed in their respective industries, and an integrated sport medicine team was still something only available to the elite. This needed to change, and somebody needed to be that agent of change. Someone needed to step up and do what nobody had done before. I’ve always believed in the power of sport to change lives. This passion aligned seamlessly with the idea of an integrated facility that would not only provide opportunities to athletes at all levels, but do it in a way that benefited youth and other aspiring athletes in the community.
- How far do you think we’ve come in terms of fulfilling the Foundation’s goals and visions?
I am very excited by what we’ve been able to accomplish in our first few years of operation. As a new charitable entity, we have been building our capacity and identity in the community. I am very encouraged by the support of our partners and individual donor network, including the Steve Nash Foundation, the Vancouver TELUS Community Board, Canadian Tire Jumpstart and Pro Motion Research Institute. Through their generosity, collaboration and expertise, we’ve been able to develop and launch influential community programming. We are working on a number of new partnerships, and look forward to rolling them out in the near future.
- KidsMove and BACK in the Game are two programs funded by the Foundation and our generous donors. How do these programs help carry out the Foundation’s vision?
I am thrilled when we have groups like the Toronto Raptors and Women’s National Soccer Team training at our facility, but what really gets me the most excited is seeing a gym full of kids developing physical literacy through trying new sports and having fun. Distilling the important elements of sport science, movement and medicine, and bringing that all together to create programs like KidsMove and BACK in the Game, is game changing. Being able to provide those for free or for a subsidized cost for families who would not otherwise be able to afford them, is life changing.
- In the past year the Foundation and our donors have also helped to purchase a new Ultrasound machine and Clinical Pilates equipment. How does equipment like this help the Foundation reach its goals?
Our ultimate goal is to ensure that every athlete, especially youth, is given every chance to pursue their love of sport. Being able to enhance sport science programming with state-of-the-art equipment, allows us to increase opportunities for these aspiring young athletes to make a full recovery to sport and play. The Foundation is thrilled to continue supporting partners that work daily with the sport science community and our elite Canadian athletes, and we will continue to do everything we can to support these programs and others in the wings.
- Looking 10 years ahead, what goals and milestones would you like to see the Foundation achieve?
Looking 10 years down the road, we hope to have the Foundation firmly established in our community. As our capacity grows, more resources will flow directly into athlete development and community programming, which will in future support a significant list of programs, both within our facility and in the community. Regardless of whether it’s today, tomorrow or ten years from now, our goal is the same. The Foundation is doing everything we can to support more opportunities for kids and marginalized populations to experience the transformative power of sport.
- What advice do you have for potential donors interested in supporting?
At Fortius Sport & Health, we will never be satisfied with the status quo. Our integrated team is committed to finding new and innovative ways to provide the best quality of training, treatment and care to athletes of all ages, levels and abilities. We are committed to cutting-edge research that will change the game and change lives for thousands of people in our community, especially those who wouldn’t otherwise have access. For anybody who wants to be part of improving the sport & health landscape for years to come, I would welcome you to join me in supporting our vision. Ten years from now, you will look back at and be proud at what we’ve achieved together.