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Canonsburg unveils Fitness Clusters in Town Park – Observer-Reporter

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Thunderstorms likely, especially this evening. Low near 70F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 80%.
Updated: August 5, 2022 @ 7:24 pm
Katherine Mansfield/Observer-Reporter
Bill and Bob Schmidt fist-bump after revealing the Fitness Clusters sign during a site dedication ceremony Thursday afternoon. The Canonsburg natives traveled the world before settling in Kentucky and Tennessee, respectively, but their roots remain solidly in their hometown.
Katherine Mansfield/Observer-Reporter
Bill and Bob Schmidt pose beside the Fitness Clusters sign, which welcomes Canonsburg residents and visitors to the new outdoor exercise area just below Yoney Pavilion. The Schmidt brothers grew up in Canonsburg and remember fondly days spent playing and socializing in the park.
Katherine Mansfield/Observer-Reporter
Bill and Bob Schmidt, with the assistance of Mayor Dave Rhome and Doug McHenry, vice president of Friends of the Park, unveil the Fitness Clusters sign, which welcomes athletes and exercise enthusiasts to the new outdoor workout area in Canonsburg Town Park while Terry Startare, president of Friends of the Park, looks on.
Katherine Mansfield/Observer-Reporter
Canon-McMillan High School freshmen Hailey Turner, left, and Bailey Robbins-O’Connell demonstrate the ab exercise equipment at Fitness Clusters in Town Park. The cross- country team showed site dedication attendees how the equipment works.

Staff writer
Katherine Mansfield/Observer-Reporter
Bill and Bob Schmidt fist-bump after revealing the Fitness Clusters sign during a site dedication ceremony Thursday afternoon. The Canonsburg natives traveled the world before settling in Kentucky and Tennessee, respectively, but their roots remain solidly in their hometown.
Katherine Mansfield/Observer-Reporter
Bill and Bob Schmidt pose beside the Fitness Clusters sign, which welcomes Canonsburg residents and visitors to the new outdoor exercise area just below Yoney Pavilion. The Schmidt brothers grew up in Canonsburg and remember fondly days spent playing and socializing in the park.
Katherine Mansfield/Observer-Reporter
Bill and Bob Schmidt, with the assistance of Mayor Dave Rhome and Doug McHenry, vice president of Friends of the Park, unveil the Fitness Clusters sign, which welcomes athletes and exercise enthusiasts to the new outdoor workout area in Canonsburg Town Park while Terry Startare, president of Friends of the Park, looks on.
Katherine Mansfield/Observer-Reporter
Canon-McMillan High School freshmen Hailey Turner, left, and Bailey Robbins-O’Connell demonstrate the ab exercise equipment at Fitness Clusters in Town Park. The cross- country team showed site dedication attendees how the equipment works.
CANONSBURG – Canonsburg Town Park’s walking trails are fit for an Olympian.
On Thursday, Canonsburg native and 1972 Olympic bronze medalist in javelin Bill Schmidt and his twin brother, Bob, unveiled Fitness Clusters, an outdoor exercise center just off the park’s newly paved walking trail.
“Town Park was literally day care for our mom,” said Bill, the youngest of seven, and the younger twin by 10 minutes, all of whom were raised by their single mother, Helen. “We’d get a dollar a day and spend the day.”
The Schmidts fondly remember playing in the park, where Bob work as a lifeguard for two summers. The brothers, now enjoying retirement down south, return to Canonsburg when they’re able for visits with family and friends. Both jumped at the opportunity to give back to the place that gave them so much.
“We spent a lot of time in the summers up here,” said Bob. “It’s truly a remarkable place. In Lexington, Ky., where I’ve lived for the last 22 years, I brag about the community, brag about what you’ve all done, and the commitment and the legacy and the town. Hopefully this will be part of the legacy.”
The legendary Town Park nearly wasn’t. In 1919, Canonsburg Borough leased the property, to be used as a cow pasture. Four years later, at the insistence of a committee, borough council purchased the 52 acres and turned it into a park.
In the last five years alone, about $1 million has been invested in Town Park. When Bill and Bob Schmidt decided to donate to the local attraction, the brothers wanted their contribution to make the biggest impact on the most people.
“It went from everything from a pavilion, to improving the skate park, to improving this to improving that,” said Bill. “Let’s do something that can cover everyone, discipline, demographic. This turned out great.”
Bill remembered seeing Fit-Trail, a series of exercise stations set along walking trails, at the 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair.
“That was the gem of the idea,” he said. “Then it was a matter of, well, we can’t put it on the trail.”
Because of the trail’s terrain, the borough opted to construct the outdoor fitness center on a plot of flat land between the basketball courts and Yoney Pavilion. Fitness Clusters is set against a backdrop of lush green trees, a hop, skip and a jump away from the walking trail.
“I think it’s awesome. It’s tucked away back here. I hope people use it,” Bob said.
Kids of all ages are encouraged to test their strength and improve their fitness at four stations, including pull-up bars and ab benches. Doug McKenery, vice president of Friends of the Park, already has plans for a Fitness Clusters chin-up competition (as a gym teacher for Canon-McMillan, he administered fitness tests, including a pull-up contest, every year).
“Bob and Bill’s desire to give back exemplifies a civic-minded act. They obviously realize that parks are essential to a community,” said McKenery. “They insisted the donation be used to foster an active lifestyle for the youth.”
The Schmidts were joined during the site dedication ceremony by Canonsburg Mayor Dave Rhome and borough council members, members of the park board and Friends of the Park, Canon-McMillan High School cross-country runners and other local government officials and residents.
Fitness Clusters is open to the public during park hours.
“The park meant everything to us. In this day and age, anything you can do to contribute and help the youth of today, or just general health and fitness, it’s well worth the investment,” Bill said. “And if you’re going to do it, why not do it in your hometown?”
Staff writer
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