Wellness Champions for 2015

Wellness Champion Nomination Stories

(Click on First Letter of Last Name to Search)



Agency: VMI

Nominated By: Robert McMasters

Sam is a very competent athlete and trains on a regular basis. As a coach of the VMI Marathon Club, he has also shown an ability to extend his love of athletics to others in the younger generation

Agency: Southwest VA Mental Health Institute

Nominated By: Nancy Bull

I would like to nominate our VDH Regional PIO, Lorrie Andrew-Spear. She is always an inspiration to those of us in the office with her constant efforts to live a healthy lifestyle and by her support and encouragement for others of us who are trying to follow suit.

She often shares recipes with us, tells others of places to buy fresh vegetables and other healthful ingredients and reminds us to keep moving by her good example. She is a Master Gardener, likes to climb and is faithful with her exercise every day.

Lorrie has a way of making eating healthy food and getting exercise sound fun and appealing!


Agency: Dept of Social sve/Norfolk Division of Child Support

Nominated By: Pamela Pittmon

Ms. Baines has inspired and motivated so many in the office to start healthy habits including exercise, eating properly, ensuring we drink our daily requirement of water and inspirational words of encouragement.

For me personally there was a point in my life where my health was a concern. Roshonda encouraged me to start working out with her 2-3 times a week. While working out she helped me modify some of the exercises. She has inspired me to want to become a personal trainer for people of my age "seniors".

She is a true inspiration for so many in our agency!

Agency: Virginia State University

Nominated By: LeShandra Mazyck

Mrs. Raymon Bessix exemplifies why it’s important to live well. She is a survivor of breast cancer. I had the honor to listen to her story. It was only the Lord that kept her and healed her body. Mrs. Bessix is a beautiful and loving person, talking to others about her story. She is also a part of a group in the in Tri-City area. I cannot tell her story like she is able to do. Please accept my nomination for Mrs. Bessix, a well deserving award--A Wellness of Change!

Agency: Southwest VA Mental Health Institute

Nominated By: Cindy Jones

Last year after my weight hit a new high for me, and after trying all the fad diets and gimmicks over the years, I began one of the commercial weight-loss programs.

I did well and lost 45 lbs. However, by the time the major holidays (Thanksgiving through New Year's) rolled around, my weight had begun drifting back up until I had regained 25 of those lbs. After New Year's I resolved to put the brakes on the weight gain. The price of the commercial program had gone up way too high -- and who plans to eat pre-packaged meals for the rest of their life anyway. One of my coworkers, Missy Dye, was attending Weight Watchers; she introduced me to the program, and I began attending weekly meetings. I learned that the program is simple to follow. I learned about the Simple Start plan, Power Foods, and the PointsPlus plan. Mostly what I learned though involved getting back to eating the right foods and the importance of being active.

You find a lot of helpful support from the other folks at the meetings, and the Commonwealth will reimburse you for half the cost of the program.

I set a goal of losing 25 lbs. and, more importantly, maintaining my target weight once I got there. In July I made my target weight and maintained it (within +/- 2 lbs.) for six weeks, which earned me my lifetime member status. Now, as long as I weigh in once a month and stay within 2 lbs. of my target weight, my membership is free. Not only do I feel better, I have more energy , and I can wear clothes in a size I haven't seen since junior high!


Agency: Chemistry

Nominated By: Piraba Swaminathan

She motivates other colleague by example and taking care of what she eats. She has been able to control her desires to have an unhealthy snack.

Agency: Northern Virginia Community College

Nominated By: Claudia Chirinos

I'd like to nominate myself. As a single mom of 2, modeling a healthy lifestyle is crucial. I used to be 300lbs, and in 2004 I selected to have the Gastric Bypass surgery as nothing else that I was doing worked for me.

Since Nov 2004, I have managed to maintain the weight that I lost (125lbs) off and now share my story with others battling weight loss. I have made significant changes in my lifestyle and promote health behaviors both at home and work.

I do my best to motivate others to make health improvements in their lives and assisted in the implementation of WeightWatchers on campus and became the campus CommonHealth Coordinator to help create a positive wellness culture for NOVA and for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Agency: DMA

Nominated By: Elizabeth Nelson

Scooter deserves this award! He motivates others to make health improvements either eating right, or getting to the gym no matter what. In December 2014 Scooter tore his ACL. February 2015 he had a ACL replacement, meniscus repair and cartilage repair. Since that time he is still going to the gym, working as best he can and still encouraging others. He truly leads by example, even on crutches.


Agency:Hampton Health Department

Nominated By:Irene Ferrainolo

Beginning in February 2015, Ms. DeWitt has provided a weight loss challenge for employees of Hampton Health Department. The program includes a newsletter and participants logs produced and sent by Ms. DeWitt weekly. Confidential/private weigh ins are held every other Friday. Initial registration was 22.

The program ends the first week of May, so there are no final outcomes to report. However, staff are walking the halls on breaks, challenging other staff to increase the number of daily steps, and several FIT BIT purchases (and they are being used.)

The distance wheel was used to measure distances outside and with the turn in the weather, staff is out walking.

Ms. DeWitt's enthusiasm and sincere concern and desire to have all participants experience some measure of success is worthy of recognition.



Nominated By:John Jackson, Pam Davis, Carol Southers, Sam Rothrock, Wendy Cullen-Lawhorne

Rusty is truly an individual who motivates others to make healthy improvements!!! A few of us work out after work each afternoon which Rusty started many, many years ago. We have continued with his endless efforts at discovering new and fresh exercise videos. He plans each afternoon by choosing videos that work on different muscles and mixing up the weights and kettle bells throughout the week.

He is always thoughtful and mindful of each person's skill level. During the workouts, he is constantly "pushing" and "commenting with directives" with a light, considerate, and positive attitude. I appreciate so much his time and energy in motivating me to feel better AND look better AND try new things and NOT be intimidated by a crazy difficult experience!!! Please consider this nomination for an amazing Wellness Champion.



Nominated By:Samantha Joyner

Suzie always has a positive outlook not only toward life and every work related task, but also toward fitness and healthy living. She shares her knowledge and personal experiences with fitness and nutrition in gentle, encouraging, and inspiring ways that make the possibility of doing better for yourself a reality for everyone.



Nominated By:Opie McKinney

Sarah encourages all of DMME employees to participate in CommonHealth programs (weight loss, blood drives, cholesterol control, and all others) throughout the year. Sarah sends out the notifications and always follows up with additional reminders and encouragement. Sarah sets the example we would all like to follow.


Agency:Dept. Juvenile Justice

Nominated By:Carrie Gowin

Tracie has worked tirelessly over the past two years to lose approximately fifty pounds. She looks outstanding and continues to model good eating and exercise habits to help her keep the weight off.

Tracie was having health problems and was concerned about her weight. She decided to take control and the self confidence that she has discovered pours over into the work place and encourages her coworkers! Way to go Tracie!

Agency:Virginia Department of Health-Hampton

Nominated By:JoAnn Harris, Andrew Burgmeier, Sarah Grenier

Larry was a smoker for about half his life and didn't want to smoke anymore because he hated every second of it, so he sought help to quit and within 3 days of getting help, he quit completely.

His digital signature on his e-mails says, "No cigarettes for me, I QUIT!" Larry has started running and swimming. He is very upbeat about getting himself back into shape. He brings a positive attitude about getting healthy and encourages the rest of the environmental health staff to do the same through tips and healthy recipes.

Agency:DOC - Probation and Parole District 13

Nominated By:Taryn McGrath

Jami has been a wonderful inspiration and motivator for me as well as several other co-workers in the office. She took the initiative to contact Planet Fitness and persuade them to waive the startup fee for anyone in the office willing to join.

She has kept us motivated to keep attending the gym on our lunch breaks and has even researched and led us in 30 minute workouts to insure we maximize our time at the gym. She is always willing to show me different exercises and help me to ensure I'm doing them properly.

Jami has gone above and beyond which is why she deserves this recognition.


Agency:Virginia State University

Nominated By:Cheryl Crawford

Wanda is a true inspiration for our college. She constantly shares her knowledge, skills, healthy eating recipes and tasting samples and encourages us all to eat healthy.

She also shares her skills and knowledge with the community through cooking demonstrations. And, she coordinates an elementary school aged program to teach children the importance of healthy eating at a young age.


Agency:VDOT Williamsburg Residency

Nominated By:Donna Sitzler

Tracy is very health oriented. She eats nuts, vegetables and protein. She attempts to push me to eat better and provides me with motivation and recipes. She motivates me to walk at lunch and shares great ideas on eating habits.

She corrects me when I am eating the wrong things. She routinely gives me suggestions and tries to make sure that I avoid pitfalls. Tracy is always there to pick me up and start me off again if I fall off the wagon. A true friend and health nut.

Agency:Department of Corrections

Nominated By:Maria Lewis

Sgt. W Lewis with Virginia Department of Corrections; works at Haynesville Correctional Center: Will is a 24 year childhood cancer survivor with A.L.L. Leukemia. Will is celebrating his 20th year in remission from Leukemia. He was diagnosed in 1991 with only a 14% survival rate in the country for children with high risk leukemia. Childhood cancers have killed millions of kids in the United States in the early 90's.

Today, Will, Sgt. Lewis has beaten his childhood cancer odds and in the best shape of his life and celebrates his 20th year of being in remission in 2014. He runs 5K's and works out frequently. Health professionals has been inspired by Will due to his willingness to do extreme exercises that no other long term childhood cancer survivor would do or is able to do due to long term effects chemotherapy can have on a patient.

Will's story is very emotional and inspiring and tells us despite the odds, we should never give up.


Agency:DPOR Board for Contractors

Nominated By:Dyan Kelly

Shay's whole existence is based on health and sharing her knowledge with others. If you happen by her "cube" you can't help but notice the delicious, healthy lunches she has on her desk. This does influence people just because it's there!

Any questions anyone has about healthy eating, exercise, evening where to buy a "ball" to sit on at work- , she is the go-to person. She also has a web site devoted to her passion. She's slim, attractive, with a good disposition and practices what she preaches.

Her goal is holistic health for the body and mind and soul and she motivates just by gently being present.


Nominated By:Meghan Mayfield

Last year I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. I thought I was a healthy person but after many intense medical treatments and surgery, I was left weak, and still sick. My lifestyle was killing me. After vising a doctor known for Integrative Wellness, I was shown the way! I was told that it's not just exercise, but exercising that included weights and cardio as well as changing what I eat.

I thought I was eating right, but I was not. I was ingesting food that was low in nutritional value and laden with all sorts of unnatural things that were wreaking havoc on my digestive system. After switching to local, organic based, whole foods based diet; I have not had a flare up in 6 months! I am now stronger, healthier, and more energetic than I ever have been before!

Agency:Alexandria Health Department

Nominated By:Sonia Garnica

I think Marbella is a model of health. She motivates others to make health improvements.


Agency:VCU- Grants & Contracts

Nominated By:Priscilla Clayborne

Vaishali is a hard worker in and out to the office. She came on board with a healthy outlook to work and eating. She then joined the gym next door and goes consistently on her lunch. She has encouraged many to join her in her quiet way. She doesn't need a bull horn to get her point across but goes after it and other follow because she encourages them that they can do it.


Agency:Virginia Department of Health - Office of EMS

Nominated By:Irene Hamilton

Robin Pearce has only been working in our office since October 2014. In January she started getting interested staff to stretch every morning - 15 minutes of stretching and dancing - during our morning break. For our afternoon break she has staff walking approximately 1 mile.

She always offers helpful tidbits to let us know the things to be mindful of when exercising and the benefits derived from a healthy lifestyle. It has made a difference for all of us who participate; e.g. lower blood pressure / blood sugar readings and weight loss. Thank you Robin!



Nominated By:Jenny Banks

Leanne has been an inspiration to many as she continues to bring healthy lunches to work; embark on daily walks (weather permitting); working out, and raising her child (exercise enough, all by itself!).

It's clear that Leanne has a healthy attitude and "walks the walk", literally and figuratively!

Agency:VSDB Staunton

Nominated By:Diane Bryant

Summer 2014, Sandy joined Weight Watchers and has since lost about 50 lbs. By using a Fitbit she has increased her overall exercise program by setting daily goals. Sandy is a member of the residential hall staff working with young deaf and blind students. Through her example she has encouraged many of the boys to join the school walking program.



Nominated By:Brenda McGuire

Shonda Spencer is not just in charge of sending out the CommonHealth newsletters...she's working hard to keep herself motivated to being a healthier person. She's been attending Weight Watchers meetings and has been walking. I'm also trying to become healthier and she's been very encouraging, invited me to walk and we've even compared notes on food. She is definitely a CHAMP!

Agency:Department of Environmental Quality

Nominated By:Morgan Goodman

Jason Spicer deserves to be recognized as a Wellness Champion. Jason not only models a healthy lifestyle but he has also started teaching Yoga to staff at our central office twice a week during lunch breaks. He is a motivating force for health and wellness through yoga at DEQ.

Agency:Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center

Nominated By:Amie Trinca

Anna is a Certified Recreation Therapist at WWRC. She has completed her fitness certification and has assisted in the planning and implementation of the WWRC Wellness program. She has expanded the wellness program for our clients from 1 to 2 sessions per week.

During these sessions she educates clients on nutrition, emotional and physical wellness. She has incorporated Yoga, stretching, strengthening, cardio and education into the program.

The program is open to clients of any disability. She also orients center and DARS staff to use the fitness equipment.


Agency:Virginia Military Institute

Nominated By:Corey Ann Matteson, Gwen Sichol, Accacia Mullen

Kathy is the coordinator for VMI's wellness program, but she goes above and beyond this position/title. She actively encourages those around her to be active and healthy. She actively participates in the program herself on a daily basis and is so encouraging and uplifting to all members, especially new members.

She sets a good example for healthy living and healthy eating and frequently sends out healthy recipes and ways to make healthier food choices. She is exciting and energetic and a true Wellness Champion at VMI.


Agency:Norfolk DCSE

Nominated By:Cynthia Rudinger

Priya is an inspiration to both our office and to me personally. She is proactive in sharing Commonhealth news, attending meetings and sharing information gained from the meetings she attends. Her gentle spirit lifts morale throughout the office and leads us to a more healthy attitude and healthy habits.


Agency:Staunton- Augusta Health Department

Nominated By:Holly Russell

Darlene works in our IT department here at the Health Department. She has improved her life eating habitats by joining Weight Watchers and continuing to make better choices. In doing so, Darlene has had significant weight loss, can breathe better and has less pain in her body. She continues to do well and has been working at this lifestyle change since April 2013. I strongly recommend Darlene to be a Wellness Champion.



Nominated By:Crystal Grishaw, Marty Taylor

Dianne helped pioneer the weight watchers at work program. She has worked hard to be a role model for all the employees and has gone on to lose 72 lbs this year. She goes above and beyond her duties to keep weight watchers at work in our centerline paper and is a inspiration to everyone at work. Dianne brings recipes, ideas, inspiration and motivation to everyone for continued good health. The weight watchers program at work has been a success because of all her hard work.


CommonHealth – the Virginia Employee Wellness Program

Health Families
Weight Watchers
Wellness Champions
CommonHealth Worksite Certified

Our Webmaster Policy: Web Policy.
© 2012 Virginia Department of Human Resource Management, Commonwealth of Virginia.
This web site is for informational purposes only. Consult a physician before performing any exercise program.