Priscilla Farrell Wins 2010 Richard L. Swanson
In 2008, Priscilla Farrell, a resident of Saco, Maine, set out to improve her health with two major goals in mind. She wanted to rely less on oxygen (24/7 use was the norm) and to walk on the beach with her granddaughter. After joining Healthways SilverSneakers® Fitness Program, 70-year-old Priscilla accomplished much more than she had set out to do. Priscilla shed 74 pounds, took control of her diabetes and eliminated numerous aches and pains she had previously been experiencing. Now, Priscilla is a true inspiration to everyone she knows.
Healthways recognized Priscilla for all of her accomplishments and her inspiring spirit by recognizing her as the 2010 Richard L. Swanson Inspiration Award recipient. In its sixth year, the Richard L. Swanson Inspiration Award was designed to honor a SilverSneakers member whose healthy behavior has made a difference in his or her own life and also inspired others. Priscilla was one of nearly 200 nominees for this year’s award. Healthways flew her to Phoenix in April to share her story in person and receive her award at the company’s annual awards ceremony. Priscilla credits SilverSneakers with helping her achieve her goals and her health plan with making the program available to her at no additional cost.
“In 2008, after a prayer asking God to help point me in the right direction, I got a call from my insurance agent telling me that they were covering the gym membership and it included the SilverSneakers program designed for people like me,” she recalls. Admitting that she had nothing to lose, Priscilla hung up the phone and made up her mind to change her situation. She adds, “I trudged down to Saco Sport and Fitness that following Tuesday with my portable oxygen; I couldn’t climb the stairs so I took the elevator … and walked into that first class short of breath.” The rest, as they say, is history. The blessings did keep coming for Priscilla who eventually won in a raffle some personal training sessions at the fitness center. “Still wearing my oxygen, I started with the trainer,” she explains. “The exercises were designed to strengthen my core and my arms and legs. I also got nutrition training from the gym and became more responsible with my food choices.”
Last year was an important time in Priscilla’s life. The determined grandmother of 10 received positive news during a follow-up visit with her pulmonologist, who not only encouraged her to continue on a healthy path, but also reduced her oxygen to nighttime use only. She had achieved one of her main goals; the walk on the beach with her granddaughter wasn’t far behind. With the help and support of her family, the knowledgeable staff at Saco Sport and Fitness and her strong faith, Priscilla continues to make strides in numerous areas. “I have developed more energy, have better posture and improved my balance … and the wonderful people participating with me are now my SilverSneakers family.”
Inspiring others to take control of their health comes easily for Priscilla, who had to learn to change her own way of thinking. It’s evident from the progress she has made that she not only talks the talk; she truly walks the walk. “You are responsible for your own life choices, and joining a program like SilverSneakers is a life-saving choice,” she offers. “You can do it! All you need to do is go at your own pace surrounded by wonderful, supportive people.” With such an encouraging mindset and can-do attitude, Priscilla is certain to enjoy many walks on the beach at Saco Bay with all of her grandchildren.
2010 Richard L. Swanson Inspiration Award winner, Priscilla Farrell and Healthways Field Manager, Doug McFarland.