Company News »

Healthways SilverSneakers(R) Fitness Announces 2014 Richard L. Swanson Inspiration Award Winner

Business Wire
Share on StockTwits
Published on

Healthways (NASDAQ:HWAY) is pleased to announce that Chandler, Arizona, resident Grace Ruby has been selected as the winner of the 2014 Richard L. Swanson Inspiration Award. Ruby, a 90-year-old cancer survivor, was selected for her inspiring story of overcoming adversity, improving her health and happiness, and being a dedicated SilverSneakers(R) champion.

SilverSneakers is the nation’s leading exercise program designed exclusively for older adults. Through a unique combination of fitness and social activities, SilverSneakers empowers members, like Ruby, to take control of their well-being. The Swanson Award honors SilverSneakers members dedicated to fitness and overall well-being, while making health improvements in their own life and inspiring others. Ruby takes advantage of her SilverSneakers Fitness benefit through her health plan, SCAN Arizona.

After surviving breast and ovarian cancers, Ruby’s health was very fragile. Knowing she needed to take active steps to improve her health, she joined SilverSneakers and began to exercise regularly. In the process, she became a champion for the program. Ruby was instrumental in starting a 7 a.m. SilverSneakers class at her local YMCA, then growing the class from a few participants to nearly 30. Now the self-proclaimed class greeter, she prides herself on knowing each one of her classmates and actively participates in class from the front row three times a week.

“Wouldn’t everyone want to be healthy? I tell you, it’s a lot better than being lethargic,” said Ruby. “I would like to thank my health plan, SCAN Arizona, for providing SilverSneakers as a coverage benefit. We are put on this earth to make the best of the time we have here, and SCAN Arizona and SilverSneakers have given me the opportunity to improve my own well-being while helping many others enjoy a better quality of life.”

The Swanson Award was created by SilverSneakers founder Mary Swanson, whose father served as the inspiration for the nationally acclaimed fitness program. For the first time in the 10-year history of the award, Healthways used Facebook voting to select the national award winner, asking the public to vote for their favorite inspiring story. Ruby and nine other SilverSneakers members were selected as finalists, and their stories were shared on the SilverSneakers Facebook page.

“Hundreds of nominations were submitted for the Swanson Award this year, and we are excited to see the great support our finalists received from the SilverSneakers social community,” said Joy Powell, Senior Solutions Division president at Healthways. “More than 20 years of outcomes data has confirmed the effectiveness of SilverSneakers in realizing higher well-being and lower healthcare costs for participants. Half of all program participants cite an improvement in chronic disease conditions, ranging from high blood pressure and heart disease to stroke and diabetes. These outcomes contribute to 60 percent of SilverSneakers participants rating their health as excellent or very good. To be able to celebrate the amazing transformations these members experience as a result of SilverSneakers is truly inspiring, and Grace’s story exemplifies the spirit of the Swanson Award.”

The nine other finalists for the 2014 Richard L. Swanson Inspiration Award are:

  • Charlotte Blumstein, Margate, Fla.: At 95 years old, Blumstein inspires all of her classmates and is convinced the classes have kept her from needing hip surgery.
  • Nelson Walter, Birdsboro, Pa.: After Walter lost his wife, the 87-year-old received comfort from his SilverSneakers family. To the joy of his classmates, Walter married another SilverSneakers member. Their special bond proves that SilverSneakers is not just an exercise program but a place to build lasting friendships and social connections.
  • Jeanne Rodgers, St. Peters, Mo.: After suffering three strokes, Rogers knew she needed to begin an exercise regimen. Attending SilverSneakers five days a week, the 67-year-old has regained control, strengthened the left side of her body and set a goal of completing a 5K race next year.
  • Julio Martinez, Patchogue, N.Y.: Prior to joining SilverSneakers, 75-year-old Martinez was battling high blood pressure and cholesterol. Now, thanks to his incredible commitment to attending classes at least four times a week, Martinez has lost 25 pounds, maintains normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and plays an active role in his grandsons’ lives.
  • Marvin Bradley, Canyon City, Colo.: After injuring his leg in 2012, Bradley used his SilverSneakers membership to rehabilitate his leg and get back into running. Now, the 75-year-old trains five to seven days a week and recently completed his 246th marathon.
  • Brenda Merrick, Hazelton, Pa.: The life of every class, 73-year-old Merrick helps SilverSneakers “newbies” feel right at home, motivating all members to exercise with joy and energy. After having spinal fusion surgery, Merrick bounced back quickly thanks to the health and endurance she gained from her SilverSneakers classes.
  • Virl Williams, Bellville, Ill.: Always first to arrive and last to leave class, Williams attributes his regular exercise with SilverSneakers to helping him overcome life-threatening heart concerns. The 74-year-old makes an effort to meet everyone who walks through the doors and passionately encourages new members to try SilverSneakers classes.
  • Patricia Ahner, Oakhurst, Calif.: Two months post-operation for her third knee replacement surgery, Ahner turned to SilverSneakers for the inspiration she needed to heal. Not only has the 73-year-old seen great improvement in rehabilitating her knee, she has also increased her strength, range of motion and flexibility, and she has noticed her overall well-being improve over time.
  • Jeff and Linda Tieger, Plantation, Fla.: When 69-year-old Linda Tieger learned that SilverSneakers was coming to her fitness facility, she became the program recruiter, growing the program from six to 60 members. Seeing Linda’s great health improvements, her husband, Jeff, who had recently been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, began participating in classes as well. The 70-year-old lost 30 pounds and four inches off his waist and became more aware of his body, improving his balance and strength.

SilverSneakers engages participants in more frequent strength training, aerobic and flexibility exercise through access to a variety of venues and programming designed specifically for older adults. The program underscores the significant link between fitness and socialization, with nearly 60 percent of members participating in classes with a friend, demonstrating the value of complete emotional and physical well-being to older adults.

SilverSneakers is available to more than 11 million Medicare beneficiaries through many Medicare Advantage health plans, Medicare Supplement carriers and group retiree plans. The SilverSneakers fitness network offers convenient access to more than 11,000 participating fitness and wellness facilities nationwide.

For more information about the Swanson Award visit

About Healthways

Healthways (NASDAQ:HWAY) is the largest independent global provider of well-being improvement solutions. Dedicated to creating a healthier world one person at a time, the Company uses the science of behavior change to produce and measure positive change in well-being for our customers, which include employers, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities and government entities. We provide highly specific and personalized support for each individual and their team of experts to optimize each participant’s health and productivity and to reduce health-related costs. Results are achieved by addressing longitudinal health risks and care needs of everyone in a given population. The Company has scaled its proprietary technology infrastructure and delivery capabilities developed over 30 years and now serves approximately 68 million people on four continents. Learn more at or

Share on StockTwits