2018 Healthy Aging STAR Award Winners

We're so pleased to introduce the recipients of this year's Healthy Aging STAR Awards.  Their commitment to the health and wellness of their communities is inspiring.  Nominations for the 2019 awards will be open in the first quarter of 2019.  Stay tuned for details.  

Bright Idea Award: 
Laura Armstrong

“Passionate and compassionate” – that’s how people describe Laura Armstrong.  As the coordinator of evidence-based community education programs at ProHealth Care in Waukesha, Laura has grown the program offerings from one to six during her tenure including almost ALL of the workshops WIHA administers, specifically Stepping On; Living Well with Chronic Conditions and its Spanish-language version, Tomando Control de su Salud:  Healthy Living with Diabetes and its Spanish-language version, Vivir Saludable con Diabetes; and Powerful Tools for Caregivers. She is alert to the needs of program participants and readily implements new ideas to assist when she identifies a need.  Whether it is making all the handouts in a larger print to ensure an easier read, finding an audio version of the literature or using a microphone every session for those who are hearing impaired, her compassion does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Recently, she recognized that many program participants struggled to navigate all the safety alert systems on the market, so she worked with a student intern to create an overview of all alert systems as a reference guide so participants could make informed choices. She also advocated the purchase of night lights as a giveaway item so class participants could safely navigate their homes at night.


For all her bright ideas and for her caring concern for the well-being of her community, thank you Laura Armstrong. 



Making It Happen
Tina Tharp

Starting a program is always exciting, but growing one can be challenging – especially in a small community. As we at WIHA like to say – we measure our success by the number of “buns in seats.”  For Tina Tharp, success is best measured by “feet in sneakers.”  For the past 5 years, Tina has been leading the Strong Bones class at Mayo Clinic Health System in Menomonie, Wisconsin.  In that time, Strong Bones has grown to over 100 participants in 6 classes – EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK.  As the Community Engagement and Wellness Specialist at Mayo, Tina finds a way to make it happen by promoting, handling reservations, and leading the physically demanding class. 


Part of the magic comes from Tina’s warm, welcoming attention to each participant and her keen interest in advocating for their physical AND mental health.  She arrives early and stays late just to be there for participants, many of whom are widowed or live alone.  For some, this is the only personal contact they get during the week and Tina’s caring, inclusive nature makes their time with her one reason they attend every week!  “Tina has a heart of gold,” according to her co-leader and nominator Katie Johnson.  “We’re so lucky she puts her kind hands to work in our community.”  


In Cahoots: 
Saul Jaurez Aguilar & Martha Viscuso

We all know the value of partnerships, but Martha Viscuso and Saul Jaurez Aguilar bring new meaning to that term.  Since becoming Leaders in the Tomando Control de Su Salud and Vivir Saludable Con Diabetes Spanish-language programs, the two have demonstrated a deep commitment to health promotion by bringing the evidence- based programs to the Hispanic community in Waukesha County.  Martha - a Health Promoter at the Hispanic Community Health and Resource Center in Waukesha - and Saul - a Manager at ProHealth - have led 10 Spanish-language workshops together, serving over 125 people. In addition to being program leaders, the two became Master Trainers and have facilitated at least one Leader Training every year.  All this means time away from work and family, and often long hours playing catch-up afterward. But for them, the outcomes are priceless.  The Leaders they have trained have led more than 40 successful workshops to date. 


Beyond the impressive numbers, their leadership, positivity, and loving spirits can’t be matched.  The two create and translate materials into Spanish for leaders and participants. The time and thoughtfulness it takes to translate from one language to another without losing the meaning of the content is challenging and their commitment to this work is remarkable.


For their dedication to the health of the Spanish-speaking community in Waukesha County and beyond, thank you Martha Viscuso and Saul Jaurez Aguilar.

Above & Beyond:
Deb Bruning

Deb Bruning is the face of health promotion in Eau Claire County. Always a smile, making everyone feel welcome.  No task too big or too small.  And boy, is she effective!


As the Health Promotion Coordinator at the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Eau Claire County, Deb consistently goes WAY above and beyond, promoting, coordinating and even leading some of the 85 WIHA workshops offered in the county since she started in 2012, including Living Well, Healthy Living with Diabetes, Powerful Tools for Caregivers, and Stepping On.  But that’s not all.  She also offers the Strong Bones and Healthy Eating for Successful Living classes, adding physical activity and sound nutrition to the menu of offerings in her community. Since taking on the coordinator role, prevention programs have grown significantly in Eau Claire County – thanks to Deb’s efforts.  


An expert program promoter, she makes it a priority to ensure that participants have a good experience, continues to seek out programs and activities to meet the needs of the changing county demographics, and is an incredible connecter to other services at the ADRC, ensuring that people have their needs met.  She continuously seeks new relationships with partners to increase the numbers of leaders trained and, by her example, demonstrates how valuable evidence-based health promotion programs can be for a healthy life.  


For her hard work, dedication and always going Above and Beyond, thank you Deb Bruning.

Above & Beyond:
Nancy Krueger

Boundless energy and unending enthusiasm – that’s how folks who know her describe Nancy Krueger.  Nancy has been the Health and Wellness Coordinator at the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Calumet, Outagamie, and Waupaca counties since 2007, and in that time, has made health promotion programs a vital part of the communities she serves.


Nancy coordinates and leads three WIHA programs: Living Well with Chronic Conditions, Healthy Living with Diabetes, and is both a Leader and Master Trainer in Stepping On. To date, there have been 267 successful workshops of these types in her three-county area and she has personally led over 80 of them with well over 2,000 participants.


In addition, she’s a Leader and Master Trainer for the StrongWomen/Strong Bodies program, starting with just 2 locations in 2008 and topping out at 60 active leaders in 25 locations today serving approximately 650 participants each year.  She also has robust Tai Chi offerings in her area with over 200 participants taking part in several classes annually.  And she has even found time to coordinate 19 CarFit events helping 234 older people ensure that they are properly seated in their vehicles and get information that helps them drive more safely.


Nancy’s determination to make programs widely available and her passion for the welfare of the people who take them, make her a natural choice for this year’s Above & Beyond Award.