Destrehan residents Larry and Mary St. Germain are in the running to win the SilverSneakers Member of the Year Award – a national award present to SilverSneakers members who embodies the healthy lifestyle that the program encourages and has improved his or her own life by incorporating physical activity while inspiring and motivating others.
Nancy Schaefer is the SilverSneakers instructor at Anytime Fitness Destrehan. She nominated the St. Germains for the contest, and earlier in July they were named as top 10 finalists.
“Larry and Mary are over the moon with excitement,” Schaefer said, adding that the couple’s story is quite a testimony of St. Charles Parish’s welcoming spirit to newcomers in the community.
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.
“They became the ‘silver stars,’ welcoming new members in and introducing them to other members,” she said. “The St. Germains are the first smiling faces at every potluck helping with setting up and they are the last ones to leave after offering a helping hand to clean up. Mary loves sharing her Cajun cooking with the class bringing in her Cajun fricassee for a potluck and her Cajun cookies at Christmas time.”
Staying active was the couple’s main priority in joining the 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 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. They often befriended classmates, taking them out for lunch and visiting them when they were sick. The St. Germains are always at every birthday celebration showing their sincere love for the SilverSneakers community. 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.”
This year the 18th annual Silver Sneakers Member of the Year Award will be decided online by national voting that began July 25 and will run through August 1. Visit https://moyawards.silversneakers.com to vote daily.
“They are role models of all the remarkable things that happen at SilverSneakers,” Schaefer said of the couple. “They embody wellness through movement. They embody wellness through social engagement in the gym, and they embody wellness through community involvement. This superhero couple is a true inspiration to everyone they meet and make the world a better place.”
Be the first to comment