Allentown, PA – PSERS
Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley
Thomas Laffey is a retired school psychologist, who has been living with Alzheimer’s for the past seven years. It affects his memory as well as his speech and understanding. Before the pandemic, Tom volunteered at a local memory unit because he wanted to be able to help others who were struggling with the same issues he is facing. He is no longer able to volunteer, but he continues to be active and social. He ran multiple times a week until about six months ago, and only retired from doubles tennis a few months ago. The highlight of his week is using his Silver Sneakers membership to enjoy working out at the Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley under the guidance of a personal trainer. This physical activity has helped maintain strength, balance and coordination while also improving his mood and helping him sleep. Throughout his life, he has embodied the desire to serve family, friends and community, and to maintain the highest level of health he can. Despite his diagnosis and its limitations, Tom continues to have a positive attitude toward people and life.
Irving, TX – Aetna
Anytime Fitness – Irving, TX
Joe Fuentes joined his local Anytime Fitness a little over a year ago. He was fired up and ready to go, with a knowledge of his way around the gym already under his belt. He was eager to continue his fitness journey with cardio and strength training. Other members at the gym tend to forget his is almost 82 years old, because he is young at heart. His kind and humble personality make him easy to approach and talk to him about anything. He has continued his consistency of going to the gym every other day since he joined the gym. Joe is an inspiration for any age and the other gym members look forward to seeing him and his fitness journey continue.
Los Lunas, NM – Presbyterian
Anytime Fitness – Los Lunas
Cathy Lee served a 20-year career as a Senior Center Director in California and understands the importance of senior activities. Cathy retired to New Mexico to enjoy a new lifestyle and found SilverSneakers classes for herself. After the pandemic interrupted her comfortable routine, Anytime Fitness and SilverSneakers have been a blessing to Cathy the last two years. She can experience group training, Zumba, Pound class, and one of her favorites, yoga, in a safe environment with other like-minded people. Or she can take live online classes, or recorded sessions, offered through SilverSneakers, all to enrich her commitment to better aging. Cathy states, “The Fountain of Youth is not a myth – it is found in physical, social and mental well-being.”
Mary and Larry St. Germain
Age 75 and 77
Destrehan, LA – Humana
Destrehan Anytime Fitness
After moving to a new town to be closer to family, Mary and Larry St. Germain wanted to be part of their new community. They found SilverSneakers at Anytime Fitness. The staff and members soon became their “second family.” Mary recently had a knee replacement, and her doctor attributed her ability to bounce back quickly to her activity with SilverSneakers and encouraged her to get back to it as soon as she could. Larry is affectionately called “Batman” throughout the community as he dresses up as the superhero to entertain schools and church fairs, even working with Make-A-Wish Foundation to help make a local boy’s wish to meet Batman come true. The couple embodies wellness through movement, social engagement and community involvement. This superhero couple is an inspiration to all who meet them.
Millersburg, OH – Aetna
Cheryl’s L.I.F.E. Fitness
Betty McNutt is a regular participant in the SilverSneakers Classic class at Cheryl’s L.I.F.E. Fitness. She also attends other classes, like tai chi and strength and balance, when she’s not on the golf course with the ladies. Betty is the “Class Clown” and even has an exercise named after her. There’s never a dull moment when Betty is around. Betty is a positive force for those in the class, and always encourages others to attend classes. As a former physical education teacher, Betty likes to tease her instructors and give them grief about staying on their toes, which creates laughter for the whole class. Betty also volunteers weekly at the local Salvation Army. Betty loves to travel and stays active so she can have fun!
Cave City, KY – Humana
Workout Anytime – Glasgow
Mary Gibbons started her fitness journey five years ago. Because she suffers from degenerative disc disease and had surgery on her neck, Mary had grown weak. She was unable to complete daily tasks and didn’t have the strength to get up off the floor. Instead of succumbing to the chronic pain, Mary decided she was going to get stronger and healthier, taking her life back. Today, Mary works out in the mornings and attends classes in the evenings. Mary inspires everyone at her gym, not just the other SilverSneakers members. She is full of energy and encourages everyone to keep it up. Mary has completely changed her life through SilverSneakers and her commitment to becoming stronger and healthier. In fact, Mary can hold a plank longer than members half her age!
Cristina “Cris” Brawner
Eden Prairie, MN – BCBS MN
Anytime Fitness – Eden Prairie
Cristina “Cris” Brawner goes out of her way to spread positivity to those who attend her gym. She always has a welcoming smile and kind words and makes everyone she talks to feel special. As one coach says, “Cris has a special ability to connect and show appreciation through every interaction, from a well-timed joke to brighten a room, to a one-on-one conversation where she always has the right words to say.” She trains multiples times a week and is not intimidated to try new challenges and encourages everyone around her to be their best. As another coach puts it, “in order to be that memorable and to be that important in the community, you have to be one incredible human to make such a great impact. Cris is incredible.”
Big Prairie, OH – Anthem/BCBS
Kinetics Fitness for Life
Mary Bridenthal, age 77, suffers from Parkinson’s disease, but since joining SilverSneakers she says her life has changed. She was not able to function at a high level, but since finding SilverSneakers at Kinetics Fitness for Life, her quality of life has improved. Mary loves the people she has met. She says they are so friendly and make her feel comfortable around them. When she first started, she could barely get out of a chair or walk without assistance. Now, she can move easily without assistance and continually gets stronger. She encourages others to find SilverSneakers to experience the joy she has found, especially those with debilitating diseases, so they can combat the struggles together.
Las Vegas, NV – Humana
Kathleen Heintz regularly exercised at the Humana Neighborhood Center in Summerlin, but when the pandemic started and gyms shut down, she wasn’t able to go to her gym. That’s when she found SilverSneakers LIVE and has been able to better navigate the fitness world during a pandemic. She is so happy with the program that she has reached Diamond level (attended 100 classes), all from the comfort of her home. Being able to take online classes has helped Kathleen stay home with her husband who has health issues, and she even encourages him to join in. Kathleen says she is determined to get him more involved, like her. After trying a few online classes, he was able to return to his physical therapy classes. Kathleen continues to attend Humana member events and is a great ambassador for SilverSneakers and all it has to offer.
College Station, TX – Humana
St. Joseph Health, Mature Well – College Station, TX
Catherine Clark, 103, walked the many hills from her home in Sausalito, Calif., to town as a young girl, and has continued walking throughout her life. She lived a healthy life, eating mostly vegetables, often from her own garden, and never smoked. After her husband of 55 years passed away, she continued her daily walks, saying hello to the neighbors. When she was in her 90s, Catherine moved to Texas with her daughter’s family. There she joined Mature Well to continue exercising out of the Texas heat, where she celebrated her 100th birthday. Catherine made her mark and inspired others in the classes as she picked up four-pound weights, when others only grabbed three-pound weights. Catherine’s favorite expression is and always has been, “As long as you have your health, you have everything.” On August 17, Catherine will be 104 years old, and although she no longer attends her weekly SilverSneakers classes because of COVID concerns, she regularly participates in online chair yoga classes and continues to show her daughter her never ending spirit to good health.