Alyssa Sutton

A La Grande business is planning a fundraiser to benefit an alternative care center for disabled veterans at Hot Lake Springs.

Body Fit by Lynette will host a boot camp fundraiser Friday for the Veterans Restorative Care Center, a $44 million project that will specialize in natural medicine to heal soldiers with physical and mental injuries. The goal of the fundraiser is to collect $10,000 with 100 percent of the proceeds to be donated to the restorative care center and its pilot program, which will be attended by five or six veterans the first weekend of October.

Lynette Williamson, owner of Body Fit by Lynette, and nutritionist Nicole Haggerty will host the event at Riverside Park Friday evening, which they describe as a fun, “go at your own pace” military-style boot camp.

Williamson has been leading boot camps since 2005 and saw this year’s event as a prime time to fundraise for the restorative care center.

“I feel like I’m kicking the dust up a little bit,” Williamson said. “The dust settled and people stopped talking about (VRCC). I think this will help get people talking about it again.”

According to the Veteran Affairs 2012 Suicide Data Report, 22 veterans commit suicide every day, totaling an estimated 8,000 a year. As such, event coordinators are emphasizing the number 22, asking for a minimum donation of $22 per individual and scheduling the boot camp to begin at 6:22 p.m.

“This boot camp is a way to honor our veterans. Losing 22 veterans a day is absolutely heartbreaking,” Williamson said. “People can come work out for a donation of $22, or they can come cheer us on. All we ask is that people are generous with their donations.”

Haggerty, a nutritionist at Body Fit by Lynette, added, “Even if you are unable to work out, we would still love to see you at the event. It is a great opportunity to support a project that not only helps veterans and their families, but will also bring hundreds of jobs to the local community.”

Williamson is involved with “Lift for the 22,” a non-profit based in Beaverton designed to help veterans obtain gym memberships and to bring awareness to veteran suicides. Through the partnership Williamson is able to provide free yearly memberships at Body Fit by Lynette to veterans.

Williamson hopes that the boot camp will help bring awareness to this new resource in the community that will be available to veterans. The goal of the Veterans Restorative Care Center at Hot Lake is to build a complete solution for veterans by providing naturopathic and Chinese medicine treatments as well as education, vocational training, mental health, diet, team building and recreational therapy.

David and Lee Manuel, who restored and reopened the Hot Lake Spring resort 13 years ago, are selling the property to a group of partners that plan to create the VRCC. The center will be owned and operated by the Warrior Bonfire Program, a Mississippi-based nonprofit organization that brings wounded veterans together for small, therapeutic retreats. Medical services will be provided on site by the National University of Natural Medicine, based in Portland.

Finally, Dyne Aquaculture, of Texas, plans to build a facility onsite to annually raise 20 million pounds of tilapia, a freshwater fish raised for meat, along with a four-acre hydroponics farm. All profits will go back to support the veterans center, and Dyne Aquaculture estimates the operation could create as many as 200 local jobs.