St. Luke’s Hospital Healthy Woman Award
Susan Richmond, Jennifer Riegel, Mary Pat Henehan, Jan Paul
Congratulations to the 2014 Healthy Woman Award honorees who were recognized at St. Luke's Hospital Spirit Girls' Night Out on Oct. 9, 2014.
Mary Pat Henehan
In her 70s, Mary Pat is more active than most women half her age. Not only does she keep a busy professional schedule as a marriage and family therapist, pastoral counselor and adjunct professor at Washington University, but she also is an accomplished senior Olympian, published author and musician who has recorded two CDs.
Mary Pat first participated in the Senior Olympics at age 54 and has competed in track and field including discus and javelin, and swimming. She serves on the Senior Olympics Committee and has inspired friends to train for and compete in the Senior Olympics as well. In 2013, she took the gold in her age bracket for a local mini triathlon.
A fellow musician and senior Olympian who nominated her said about Mary Pat, "She is dedicated to teaching others the skills they need to help empower others to live healthy lives. Despite her numerous accomplishments, she is extremely humble."
In 2005, Jan left her job as an editor and investigative reporter to start a second career and follow her dream to be a landscape designer and horticulturist. One year later, she was diagnosed with stage 3-B ovarian cancer. Today she is in remission, working with her husband in their landscaping business and spending much of her time bringing awareness to ovarian cancer through her volunteer work with the nonprofit organization, St. Louis Ovarian Cancer Awareness (SLOCA).
Jan served on the SLOCA board for seven years, served as VP of Messaging, forming the basis for the marketing campaigns that are now used to promote SLOCA's mission of awareness, support and research of ovarian cancer, and used her journalism skills to spearhead the development of the organization's newsletter, redesign the website and develop an e-newsletter. She also facilitated SLOCA's "Survivors Teaching Students; Saving Women's Lives" program, educating medical and nursing students on the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Jan also is a heart disease survivor. Prior to her cancer, in her 40s she had a heart attack. She had no risk factors and was caught completely off-guard. After many tests, she learned she has a protein deficiency that makes her more prone to clotting issues. Jan will readily say that women need to do a better job of taking care of themselves, balancing it with the care they provide to others. In hindsight, she now realizes she ignored some of her early cancer symptoms. "As women, we are busy taking care of everyone else; we come last. We need to pay attention to our own body, listen to our intuition, and really advocate for our own health," says Jan.
Fitness and good health have long been priorities for Susan in her personal life. She competes frequently in triathlons, qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon, has completed two Ironman events, and biked 500 miles with her adult son in the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. But it is how she shares her passion for health and fitness with others that truly sets her apart.
As a third-grade teacher in the Rockwood School District's gifted program, Susan spent a year developing a curriculum called Shaping Your Life. It is designed to help students explore how they make informed decisions that impact their health and improve the quality of their lives - through fitness, nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices. It inspires children to take what they've learned back to their families. Susan also wrote a grant to acquire two kids' cardio machines for her classroom and incorporates First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move program into her lessons.
Susan inspires students, teachers and colleagues beyond the classroom, as a mentor for the school's Girls on the Run program, and a champion for after-school exercise, organizing running or walking groups for students and teachers, and yoga and Pilates classes on site. Susan believes one of the most important aspects of good health is accepting who you are and doing the best you can to be healthy.
Jennifer used a tragic event in her life as a wake-up call to improve her health and turn a negative into a positive. After surviving a head-on collision with a drunk driver, Jennifer was left with serious injuries, underwent multiple surgeries and spent months in physical therapy. Overweight and out of shape before the accident, she pushed herself to lose 50 pounds the sensible way - eating right and exercising. She joined an exercise class at a local fitness center and loved it so much that when the instructor left and the class risked being cancelled, Jennifer decided to get certified as a group exercise instructor so she could keep the class going.
Despite her busy schedule as a senior highway design technician at MoDOT and mom to a 3-year-old, Jennifer is dedicated to carving out time to exercise and support others. She squeezes exercise into her day wherever she can. At work, she assists colleagues by putting together fitness plans for them, providing healthy eating advice and recipes, and exercising with them on break time. She formed a walking group at her local park.
"Jennifer is an inspiration to all of us. Even thought she still has pains from her accident, you would never know it to see her," wrote a colleague who nominated Jennifer for the award. "She is truly a success story of recovery and renewal."
Congratulations to our honorees and all the exceptional nominees.