Sitka Health Summit to honor wellness champions

September 18 2011

Community wellness champions from all walks of life will be honored for the work they’ve done making Sitka a healthier place to live. The awards will be presented during the fifth annual Sitka Health Summit wellness award celebration, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 29, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. Besides honoring our community wellness champions, the celebration will feature a presentation “Health in the Long Run” by Don Lehmann, MD, a family physician and sports medicine specialist from Sitka Medical Center. The celebration also features a selection of local and organic desserts prepared by Sitka Spruce Catering. A suggested donation of $5 will be accepted to benefit the Sitka Health Summit’s Health Initiatives Fund. The Sitka Health Summit also features a planning day from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 30, where Sitka residents will decide their community health priorities for 2011-12, and enjoy a lunch of fish tacos in honor of one of this year’s projects. The Sitka Community Health Fair is from 7 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 1. All events will be at Harrigan Centennial Hall. More information is available at The vision for the Sitka Health Summit is for Sitka “to serve our great state as a model for community wellness by creating a healthy community where Sitkans strive for and enjoy a high quality of life.” These awards honor community members who already have been living within this vision. The winners have done work in six categories — physical activity, nutrition, tobacco prevention and control, injury prevention, holistic health and general wellness. Community members were asked to nominate people who made a difference or served as role models in one of the six community wellness award categories, and an awards committee from the Sitka Health Summit decided on the final recipients. In addition to the six categories, a special award, called the Steve Reifenstuhl Award, was created in 2008 to honor a local athlete for his or her commitment to physical fitness and for being an extraordinarily active community wellness role model.

2011 Sitka Health Summit Community Wellness Champion Award Winners

General Wellness
  • Cindy Edwards and Brant Brantman — This hardworking and dynamic duo has been volunteering hundreds of hours a month to make the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center a thriving place for physical activity and community.
Holistic Health
  • Naa Kahídi Dancers – The dancers in this group are committed to learning and teaching about their Tlingít culture, to sobriety and to physical activity.
  • Doris Smith – This active Sitka senior walks her talk or hikes her hike, in addition to leading T'ai Chi Chih four days a week at the Swan Lake Senior Center.
Tobacco Prevention and Control
  • Sitka Fine Arts Camp - This spring the Sitka Fine Arts Camp adopted a tobacco-free policy that will protect people’s right to breathe clean air and will undoubtedly help make the entire 20-acre campus a healthy place to live, work, learn and be.
Injury Prevention
  • Sitka Mountain Rescue Team – This group of volunteers is dedicated to providing wilderness safety education to the public, and prompt, professional emergency services for people who are lost, injured, stranded, or in need of a rescue.
  • Laura Schmidt – Master Gardener Laura Schmidt took on the task of lead gardener at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm and performed at an exceptionally high level, in every aspect of the job. Her efforts went above and beyond her contract, got new people involved and contributed to a record-setting harvest of healthy local vegetables.
  • Richard Hagenbuch and the SEARHC S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Litehouse Cafeteria staff - After attending a training on improving hospital nutrition Richard and his team swung into action making improvement after improvement, selling fruit and vegetables at cost, switching to low fat mayo, reducing the price on the salad bar and instituting a “Wellness Wednesday” entrée that both delicious and nutritious.
Physical Activity
  • Karen Parker — In the tradition of inaugural Sitka Health Summit physical activity award winner Alice Machesney, Karen has made a lifestyle out of functional physical activity, walking for transportation to the tune of several thousands of steps a day.
  • The Alpine Adventure Run Organizers, aka the Horan family – For years, Sitkans have set their sights on getting in shape to achieve a tangible goal – the Alpine Adventure Run. This fun community event has been happening year after year primarily because of the efforts of one wonderful family — the Horans.
Steve Reifenstuhl Award
  • Paula Leonard – This year Paula trained and served as the team nurse for a climb up Mount Everest (Qomolangma or Chololungma in Tibetan). Over the past five years, she has climbed five of the mountains in the Seven Peaks Challenge (climbing the highest mountains on each continent) and served as a role model for others.