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Adam Fox's life and the new Adam Fox Personal Training Scholarship Fund were celebrated April 22 at a special ceremony at the Donald S. Spencer Student Recreation Center. During that ceremony, an original artwork print—a fractal image, entitled "Lightway" (middle frame), Lutz had created and given to Fox as a graduation gift—was dedicated to Fox and his contributions to WIU Campus Recreation Fitness Services and all those who interacted with him through his personal training job at the Rec Center. In the photo (L to R): Cory Nicholson (Batavia, IL), WIU kinesiology graduate student and Campus Recreation Fitness Services personal trainer; Kelley Kenady, director, Campus Recreation Fitness Services; Milly MacDonell, director, Campus Recreation; Marsh Grotts, building service worker, Spencer Student Recreation Center; Dawn Piper (friend of Adam Fox), owner, Free Range Yoga; Cheryl Julcher, Fox's sister; Jan Cohen, Fox's mother; and Deb Lutz, office manager, WIU geography department.
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Cheryl Julcher (bending by tree), Adam Fox's sister, and Jan Cohen (blue coat), Adam Fox's mother, lay flowers at the base of the tree that was planted April 22 in honor of the five Western Illinois University students who passed away during the 2014-15 academic year.
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Remembering Adam Fox… Campus Recreation Display Serves as Tribute to WIU Alumnus, Student

May 7, 2015


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MACOMB, IL — Some may describe it as fortuitous fate, others serendipity… For Western Illinois University Department of Geography Office Manager Deb Lutz, she describes it as a relationship that "saved her life." Lutz is referring to her relationship with WIU alumnus Adam Fox, who, back in 2013, was assigned to her as a personal trainer via the WIU Campus Recreation Fitness Services personal training program.

On April 22, Fox—along with four other students who passed away during Western's 2014-15 academic year—was honored at a memorial tree planting ceremony on Western's Macomb campus. As a tribute to him, Fox's mother and stepfather (Jan and Norman Cohen) donated funds (from a memorial fund set up for Fox) to Campus Recreation to be used for the Adam Fox Personal Training Scholarship Fund. Western students or employees who desire personal training, but who may not be able to afford it, can apply for the fund, said WIU Campus Recreation Fitness Services Director Kelley Kenady.

An hour prior to the April 22 tree planting ceremony, Fox's life and the new scholarship fund were also celebrated at a special ceremony at the Donald S. Spencer Student Recreation Center. During that ceremony, an original artwork print—a fractal image, entitled "Lightway," Lutz had created and given to Fox as a graduation gift—was dedicated to Fox and his contributions to Campus Recreation Fitness Services and all those who interacted with him through his personal training job at the Rec Center.

Foxes and Fractals

Lutz's relationship with Fox began through her prize of personal training sessions, which she won from a WIU Civil Service Employees Luncheon raffle drawing. Immediately after meeting him, Lutz—an avid collector of fox knickknacks—thought there might just be something lucky about the circumstance of her trainer's last name and her hobby of collecting fox tchotchkes.

"When I was paired with Adam, one of the first things I took note of was his name, 'Fox.' I can't even begin to tell you how many years I've been a 'fox freak.' I collect foxes—I literally have hundreds of them at home. My license plate has the word 'fox' in it, and I have red hair. I also have many t-shirts with foxes on them, and I used to make Adam laugh by wearing them for workouts. He would ask, 'How many of these do you have?'" she explained. "From the moment I met him, I knew Adam was one of those personalities that drew people in. He just sparkled. I would go in to work out and, maybe, not necessarily feel like it, and he would just make the whole session light and fun by cracking jokes to make me feel comfortable."

When Lutz started training with Fox, he was finishing up his marketing bachelor's degree in Western's management and marketing department. Through his on-campus job as a personal trainer, Fox worked with many like Lutz who signed up for personal training.

According to Kenady, Fox was one of the most popular trainers in the program, and he was particularly adept at training clients who struggled with joint and health issues. Kenady said he would often consult with his stepfather, an orthopedic surgeon, about exercises and techniques that could help his clients.

"I think everyone who knew Adam realized he was a beautiful heart and soul. He really went out of his way to make other people's day every day. When we would have our once-a-month meetings at 3 p.m. on Sundays, which, inevitably, interfered with football season for the trainers (who are primarily male), there would always be a lot of grumbling. Adam would always make funny, smart-alecky remarks that would make everyone laugh and lighten the mood. Then everything at the meeting would go just fine. He had this way about him—he could say things in a funny way that someone else couldn't get away with. We are forever grateful that he spent time with us here at the Student Recreation Center and that we got to know him," Kenady said.

Campus Recreation Director Milly MacDonell echoed Kenady's sentiments, noting that Fox's enthusiasm shined when he was working at the Spencer Student Recreation Center.

"Adam exemplified a passion for fitness, wellness and helping others that we hope to see in all of our employees," she said. "He simply loved being here and helping others. He was definitely loved and appreciated by his personal training clients."

During their training sessions, Lutz's relationship with Fox deepened as he continued to help her out of what she described as a "very bad place."

"I was very down physically, and I wasn't sure how I was going to get out of that. His encouragement and his gentle prodding made all the difference," Lutz said. "I remember one time when he told me about how much better I was walking. That really made an impact on me. He was always encouraging. I'd be down on myself about how I couldn't do something, and he would say, 'But look at how far you've come! You couldn't do this before.' The way he made people feel better about themselves—it's just the way he was."

After Fox finished his marketing bachelor's degree in 2013, he enrolled in Western's master of business administration (MBA) program. He was still employed by Campus Recreation Fitness Services when he passed away in August of 2014.

The memorial wall in the Spencer Student Recreation Center includes three pieces of artwork, all of fractal images designed by Lutz, who has won awards for her artwork in regional art shows.

"He always loved my fractal art," Lutz noted. "When he graduated, that was my gift to him. Out of the several hundred images I had, he got to pick the one he liked the best, and that was 'Lightway.' Now, his mother has the original, and she commissioned the print of 'Lightway' that is now displayed in the Spencer Recreation Center."

The memorial to Fox is located on the upper level of the Spencer Student Recreation Center, near the racquetball courts.

"Milly asked me to pick out a few big prints that would look good with 'Lightway' and would go with the purple wall on which it's hung. I chose a couple pieces that had some good purples in them," Lutz said. "I am humbled they would use my work to honor Adam. I think we all feel his loss very keenly, but I am happy the memorial wall will be a lasting tribute to all that he did for me and everyone else who got to know him."

For information about how to apply for the Adam Fox Personal Training Scholarship Fund, contact Kenady at (309) 298-1228 or via email at KA-Kenady@wiu.edu.

Posted By: Teresa Koltzenburg (WIUNews@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations