Destrehan couple wins nationwide SilverSneakers Member of the Year Award

Destrehan residents Larry and Mary St. Germain have been announced as the winners of the 18th annual SilverSneakers Member of the Year Award.

Larry said he was elated when he heard the news.

“If we can change one person’s idea about being active at our age, then we did our job of making a difference,” he said.

The award honors a SilverSneakers member or members who inspire and motivate other seniors through health, physical activity, and community.

“We’re excited and blessed that so many voted for us,” Mary said.

Nancy Schaefer is the SilverSneakers instructor at Anytime Fitness Destrehan. She nominated the St. Germains for the contest, and in July they were named as top 10 finalists. The Member of the Year Award was decided online by national voting that began July 25 and concluded Aug. 1.

In the end, the couple received over 4,000 votes from as far away as Australia.

Larry said he and Mary couldn’t have won without the support of the St. Charles Parish and Anytime Fitness communities.

“I was thrilled so many people helped us to win this award,” Mary said. “It’s such an unbelievable, amazing feeling to receive such an honorable award – it really means the world to us. Our fellow gym members and teachers are family, and their votes and support made this possible.”

Married for 59 years, the St. Germains were born and raised in Golden Meadow and moved in Destrehan in 2012 to be closer to one of their sons and his family.

“Larry and Mary share their story of coming to a town where they did not know many people and began to search for places to become part of the community,” Schaefer said. “The couple discovered SilverSneakers close to their new townhome and began taking classes there together three to four days a week.”

Schaefer said it wasn’t long before Larry and Mary became leaders in their classes.

Staying active was the couple’s main priority in joining the SilverSneakers program, Schaefer said, as Larry’s family history is prevalent with heart disease and Larry himself had a heart attack at 42 years old.

“Most of the men in my family died of heart disease before they reached age 65,” Larry said. “I never expected to live to be 77 years old.”

Schaefer said the St. Germains are committed to their SilverSneakers classes and working out in the gym. After Mary recently had knee replacement surgery, her doctor was extremely impressed by her ability to bounce back so quickly. He told Mary that being a SilverSneakers member was key to her rehabilitation and encouraged her to get back to it as soon as possible after her surgery.

“There is a quote in the Bible that we try to live by … ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,’” Larry said. “That is the way we try to lead our lives.”

Mary and Larry, who have been married for 59 years, are always giving back to their community, Schaefer said.

“They joined the Community Outreach Team, a volunteer group, at Anytime Fitness and gave their time and talent to the Matthew 25:35 food pantry located next door to the gym,” she said. “They are highly active in their church, cleaning the church weekly and heading up the yearly St. Joseph Altar cookie making.”

Most recently Mary received an award for the Most Volunteer Hours During the Pandemic with the parish’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program. She was instrumental in sewing masks at the beginning of the pandemic – sewing for eight hours a day and making over 700 masks.

“It is worth noting too, that Mary and Larry are always including their classmates in their community outreach endeavors,” Schaefer said. “Anyone that is lonesome or bored … they will get the SilverSneakers members involved. Larry and Mary truly lead their lives with a servant mentality.”

Schaefer said that Larry is affectionately called Batman throughout the community. It started after he began dressing up as a superhero to entertain his children and grandchildren at Mardi Gras.

“He would also visit schools and church fairs spreading his superhero magic,” Shaefer said. “Make-A-Wish Foundation reached out to him and asked him to meet a local young 5-year-old boy with cancer. The boy’s wish was to meet Batman. Larry played Batman and his grandson played Robin. They were able to fulfill the young boy’s dream. This was the beginning of Larry’s crusade to bring joy to the little children by allowing them to meet a real-life superhero. He has since been involved in many activities throughout the year as Batman.”

Richard Ashworth, president and CEO of Tivity Health, said the St. Germains represent the great group of Member of the Year nominees who inspire and encourage others to improve their health through physical activity.

“The St. Germains exemplify the tremendous strength and commitment our members have to maintain their health and vitality,” he said.

SilverSneakers, by Tivity Health, is the nation’s leading community fitness program for Medicare eligible Americans. The program was founded in 1992 and is available to more than 18 million Americans through many Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Supplement carriers, and group retiree plans. For more information, to check eligibility or to enroll in the program or sign up for a SilverSneakers newsletter, go to silversneakers.com.

 

About Monique Roth 734 Articles
Roth has both her undergraduate and graduate degree in journalism, which she has utilized in the past as an instructor at Southeastern Louisiana University and a reporter at various newspapers and online publications. She grew up in LaPlace, where she currently resides with her husband and three daughters.

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