The following people were the winners of this year's Physical Fitness and Health awards, presented by the Mayor's Council on Physical Fitness and Health:
Susan Davis, senior director of alumni relations at Columbia College, started a healthy diet on Jan. 1 by giving up soda and tracking her calorie intake and walking. Davis succeeded in losing 45 pounds for her son’s high school graduation, a vacation to the beach and a wedding.
Robin Elkthunder, assistant director of financial aid at Columbia College, has switched her mindset about healthy eating. She started eating healthy foods, going to fitness classes, doing home exercise videos and reading about healthy eating.
Stacy Ford, student service manager at Columbia College, started her weight loss regiment by joining Columbia College's "Biggest Loser" competition, and has continued her healthy lifestyle by including smarter food choices and exercise.
Susan Polacek, registration and financial services coordinator at Columbia College, joined her husband Travis in a weight loss journey to slim down and have more energy. She’s lost 90 pounds since she and her husband started substituting chicken and turkey for red meat and Polacek started using healthier ingredients in her cooking.
Travis Polacek, service technician at Star Heating & Air Conditioning, began a new lifestyle after realizing he hit 302 pounds at age 27. He tracked his calorie intake, portion control and exercised five times a week with his wife to shed the weight. He’s now down to 172 pounds and is keeping it down by continuing the changes he’s made in his diet and activity.
Craig Lycke, a small systems consultant for Shelter Insurance, was nominated for his dedication to exercise. About four years ago, Lycke was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes when his weight began creeping toward 330 pounds. He joined a fitness group to train for a half marathon. Today, Lycke has finished many half marathons and two full marathons. He weighs just under 200 pounds and is no longer diabetic. He uses his newly found motivation to coach runners in his fitness group and runs with them across the finish line.
Angel Bard was nominated for her enthusiasm during gymnastics practice. She is also involved in Challenger softball and the Special Olympics. She won medals in the softball throw and javelin throw and competed in track and field events in Springfield. She volunteers with the ACT day care program.
Greg Hill recently celebrated his 35th anniversary as a volunteer with the Special Olympics. His full-time job as an insurance agent with State Farm doesn't interfere with his work as a member on the board of directors or as a coach for Daniel Boone Little League. He has also been involved in developing Hickman High School’s Touchdown Club. Hill has also worked with Rock Bridge High School by serving on the Partners in Education Committee and the Hall of Fame selection committee, and acted as a team parent for the girl’s golf team.
Jeremy Walton has been involved with the Special Olympics for over 10 years. He has competed in every event except for bocce ball. Walton has competed in the State Games in Cape Girardeau, where he won the bronze medal in tennis and silver in softball. He competes locally in basketball, softball, golf, tennis and swimming, among others. When he isn't competing, Walton volunteers at Giving Gardens.
Rachel Stoerker, 17, has cheered competitively for Hickman High School since her freshman year at Hickman. Stoerker practices her routines to hone her skills and is always willing to try new moves to encourage other girls on the squad. This can sometimes be a challenge because Stoerker is deaf, but her teammates and her ability to read lips help her performance stay precise. She plans on going to college where she can continue cheering.
Kiersa Toll serves as liaison from Lee Elementary School’s Walking School Bus to the PedNet Coalition. She stands at a “staging post” where parents are able to drop off students to walk to school. The program encourages physical activity in the daily routine of Lee students and helps reduce traffic around the school during peak hours.
Karen Wingert received certification as a cancer exercise specialist through the American College of Sports and Medicine. An assistant professor in the School of Physical Therapy at MU, Wingert teaches exercise classes for cancer survivors at the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. The classes are six weeks long and focus on six people at a time so Wingert can work closely with each individual. Wingert recently received a grant to teach a class for breast cancer survivors based on the effects of exercise on the quality of life and fatigue.