Lighthouses may seem like an odd symbol for a wellness initiative in communities nestled in the middle of the country, where windmills dot the landscape. The guiding beacon of a lighthouse, however, embodies the work and the people of the Platte River Fitness Series.
The Lighthouse Fitness Project is an opportunity to share and grow the vision, mission and focus of the Platte River Fitness Series through the stories and photographs of 10 individuals who have generously agreed to let us share their journey to wellness and the “Lighthouses” who helped guide them.
We all battle a different storm. For some, the storm is physical health. Over-weight, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, joint damage, health-damaging habits are all waves that can crash down on us, robbing us of the vitality, productivity, and free-spirited life we once envisioned. For some, the storm is mental health. Depression, anxiety, lack of self-esteem, trauma, grief and loss make us feel as though the waves may pull us under so far we can’t ever reach the shore. Many battle both storms at once.
The PRFS was designed to be a light, a way home through the storm, for people who need to find their own spark and a way to live a better, healthier life. We have tried to do so by growing a community and it is this community of athletes who have become the lighthouses for each other. We have tried to do so by providing a sense of accomplishment and a celebration of every kind of accomplishment, and by making sure that everyone knows that their health and happiness matters to their community. We are a fitness family.
We are starting this project with two examples of what it means to be a fitness “Lighthouse.” They have grown into accomplished athletes. They have become regulars on the medals stand, and are consistent winners in the PRFS Points Competition. Above all, they are healthy. What makes them Lighthouses is that they illuminate the way for others and help lead them through their storms. They encourage and they inspire, and they let their light shine for everyone.
Dee Tuenge, from the women’s 50-59 age group, is a Lighthouse for every athlete who lines up for a PRFS event. It is Dee who coined the term “wog” for the athletes who walk and jog their miles, giving them a special designation for their accomplishment. Her famous smile, hands-in-the-air and “Whoop, Whoop” remind others that there is great joy in good health. When you feel good, it is so much easier to feel positive about yourself and your life. Dee touches everyone she meets with this health-induced positive energy. Dee Tuenge is a Lighthouse.
Linda Kramer, from the women’s 40-49 age division, exemplifies what it means to be a member of a fitness family. She will race you with all she has. If she beats you, she will go back to bring you to the finish line. If you beat her, she will celebrate your victory with you. Linda started as a walker. She also did a bit of swimming during the summer. Shy and introverted, she has grown into a powerhouse athlete and wise counsel, who leads the way home for others with her dedication and grace. Linda Kramer is a Lighthouse.
In the weeks to come, the Lighthouse Fitness Project will tell the stories of people who have navigated the stormy seas, and who, with the help of their special Lighthouses have reached the shore to find “strong bodies and bold spirits.”
Click here for more posts from the Lighthouse project.