2021 Healthy Aging Star Award Winners

Meet the 2021 recipients of WIHA's Healthy Aging Star Awards!

 

 

 

Above & Beyond Award
Marilyn Lange and Successful Aging in Greendale for Everyone (SAGE)

 

Marilyn Lange has gone above and beyond throughout her career to make positive changes that impact the lives of countless older adults and their families. Successful Aging in Greendale for Everyone – also known as SAGE – is one of her passions and is a driving force for community support of older adults. SAGE is a unique group of passionate volunteers supported by the Greendale Health Department to find and implement ways to support seniors and their caregivers. The group is engaged in Greendale’s AARP Age-Friendly communities initiative and works to support healthier more productive lives for older adults. Marilyn currently serves as chair of SAGE’s Dementia subcommittee writing a monthly e-newsletter and giving presentations on dementia.  

 

Prior to her retirement, Marilyn worked with Family Service of Milwaukee where she started the Volunteer Service Program.  Her commitment to supporting older adults and people in underserved communities has been nothing short of remarkable and is evident in her work with the Alzheimer’s Association and the Village Adult Services program where she developed an adult day center for Hispanic elders and people with disabilities, which later became part of the United Community Center - currently one of the largest adult day programs in Milwaukee.  

 

Bright Idea Award
Tony Omernik

 

Tony Omernik has demonstrated a passion for helping others using both creativity and his infectious enthusiasm to improve the lives of older adults in Marathon County. Professionally, Tony was the Director of the American Red Cross in Marathon County and later served as Program Director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program at the United Way of Marathon County. His commitment didn’t end with retirement. He recognized that successful aging meant attending to social and purpose-driven needs so he became a certified retirement coach providing presentations on non-financial planning for retirement entitled, “Secrets of the Happiest Retirees”. From there, he went on to start the Healthy Aging Team – a group of older adults working to improve health and wellness - and soon got involved in the City of Wausau’s AARP Livable Community Initiative to make the city inclusive and welcoming to all ages.

 

A tireless champion of health and wellness, Tony became a Living Well with Chronic Conditions program leader in 2019. He later joined the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Central Wisconsin Advisory Board and became a volunteer driver for the home-delivered meal program. Tony’s passion and enthusiasm for helping his community has turned his big ideas into action for his community.

 

Making it Happen Award
Vicky Schneider

 

As Director of Senior Services at the Senior Activity Center in Sheboygan, Vicky Schneider truly walks the walk when it comes to the health of older adults in her community.  A champion for the physical and social needs of older adults, she works to ensure that wide ranging opportunities for recreation, health, the arts, and more are available at the center. She is active with the Livable Sheboygan committee which includes building affordable housing within the area and creating engaging recreational opportunities. She is also on the Advanced Care Planning Committee, which promotes end-of-life care plans.

 

To ensure that people with dementia are respected and included in the community, Vicky implemented dementia-friendly strategies in the center and worked with the Dementia Care Network to educate and train employees on ways to support people with dementia and their families. She continues to emphasize health and wellness by bringing trainings and programs to the center including Walk With Ease, Stepping On, and the Physical Activity for Lifelong Success - or PALS - program. Vicky’s passion for her community is also evident in her role as a Sheboygan County Board Supervisor.

 

In Cahoots Award
Roxanne Klubertanz-Gerber

 

As Manager of the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Eagle Country - Richland Center office, Roxanne Klubertanz-Gerber has been a leader both in recognizing the needs of the community and in increasing the health promotion offerings to meet those needs for older adults and people with disabilities.  She partners with the Symons Recreation Complex, which specializes in health and fitness, to expand health promotion programs to a wider audience of people.  In 2017, the ADRC of Eagle County offered no high-level evidence-based health promotion programs; by 2019, there were over 40 clients served with over 1,200 class hours! This includes significantly more older adults who have access to Stepping On, Tai Chi, PALS, and Strongbodies classes.

 

Under her leadership, four additional counties now partner with the Symons Recreation Center to offer evidence-based health promotion programs. By thinking outside of the box and finding creative ways to partner that extend programs, the entire community has benefited.  

 

Health Equity Award
Dr. Eva Vivian

 

Removing obstacles to accessing quality health care is the starting point for health equity – and Dr. Eva Vivian is leading the way. A University of Wisconsin Pharmacy Professor and President of the African-American Health Network, Dr. Vivian continues to strive for equity in underserved communities, with a specific emphasis on diabetes supports.  Her Healthy Outcomes through Peer Educators (HOPE) project in Madison and Milwaukee focuses on providing African-American community members with information and strategies to prevent or manage type 2 diabetes. After completing the 16-week program, participants can become peer coaches themselves, further supporting their community.

 

With the effects of COVID-19 hitting underserved communities hard, Dr. Vivian has been a visible leader alerting the public to the elevated health risks in the African-American population and has been a champion for breaking down existing disparities in access to vaccine and care.  She continues to be a trusted voice in the community encouraging vaccinations by advocating their safety and by partnering with organizations like the Goodman Community Center in Madison to offer vaccination clinics, as well as vaccine education.