For Immediate Release
September 7, 2012

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Governor Brownback to Honor Kansas Health Champions at State Fair

TOPEKA – Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is scheduled to recognize the 2012 Kansas Health Champion Award recipients at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson on Thursday, Sept. 13. This year’s Health Champions are Dr. Rick Werling of Fort Scott and the Derby Recreation Commission of Derby. Honorable Mention recipients are Michel Loomis of Lawrence, Ashland Fitness Center (Ashland) and Kansas Recreation and Park Association (Topeka). The recognition will be held at 2 p.m. in the Corporate Tent by the Encampment Building.

The Health Champion Award was developed by the Governor’s Council on Fitness to recognize and promote exemplary contributions to fitness in Kansas. Eligible nominees included individuals and organizations such as volunteers, schools, communities, employers, media organizations and policy makers who go above and beyond what is expected through normal job or organizational responsibilities related to modeling, encouraging, and promoting fitness.

The Individual Champion, Dr. Rick Werling, recently retired as superintendent of Fort Scott Unified School District 234 schools. He has been a consistent promoter of improving health, physical activity and nutrition policies and practices for all students and staff and throughout.

the larger community. Under his leadership, USD 234 implemented novel approaches to incorporate additional physical activity throughout the day. Statewide, Dr. Werling assisted with the development and support of statewide policy and practices through the Kansas School Health Statewide Advisory Committee.

The Organizational Champion, the Derby Recreation Commission, has been ensuring high-quality fitness opportunities for Derby USD 260 residents for over 32 years. The DRC engages the community through efforts such as the Derby Health Collaborative. The Collaborative is comprised of organizations and individuals working together for improved community wellness by providing education, creating opportunities, and reinforcing healthy choices and activities for all ages. In fiscal year 2011, over $171,000 in scholarships made these fitness opportunities even more economically accessible to individuals and families.

The Individual Honorable Mention, Michel Loomis, is an English teacher at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School in Lawrence. She goes above and beyond her classroom responsibilities to promote youth fitness through activities such as sponsoring morning open gym for students arriving early for breakfast, establishing and promoting a “Smart Strength” program, and providing continued leadership for the annual Fun Run, which she helped start 25 years ago.

The Organizational Honorable Mentions are Kansas Recreation & Park Association and Ashland Fitness Center. The Kansas Recreation & Park Association, Topeka, acts on behalf of nearly 1,000 park and recreation professionals, citizen board members and students in serving as a resource for education, advocacy and communication. Additionally, KRPA promotes healthy lifestyle initiatives both on a state and local level through a variety of programs and projects.

Ashland Fitness Center started when a group of volunteers from this western Kansas town, population less than 900, had a vision for a community fitness facility. After 1,000 hours of volunteer labor, a Kansas Department of Commerce grant, and several private contributions, the fitness center opened in January 2012. Now, it provides educational programs and fitness opportunities for community members of all ages.

The Governor’s Council on Fitness advises the Governor and others on ways to enhance the health of all Kansans through promotion of physical activity, good dietary choices and prevention of tobacco use. For more information, go to