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Emeritus Recruits Employees for Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

National Essay Competition Reaps Racers with Heart

Seattle, Wash. – June 14, 2011 – This spring, Emeritus Senior Living, the nation’s largest provider of assisted living services, launched a nationwide essay competition to select nine highly motivated Emeritus employees to sponsor for the Dodge Rock ‘n’' Roll Marathon in Seattle on June 25.

The winners had to submit essays discussing: Why is this race important to you? How does it fit into your fitness goals? And, What inspired you to enter this competition? Beyond the free flight, accommodations, meals, and half-marathon registration, winners also received weekly instruction and encouragement from individual running coaches, a Pre-Race catered carbo-load dinner at Emeritus headquarters in Seattle on June 24, and high-end team running shirts.

“We knew we had a lot of employees who were runners, but the essays we received were overwhelming. They were the most heart-felt and compelling stories we ever could imagine,” said Pam Engle, VP of Benefits & Compensation for Emeritus. “Their enthusiasm, heart and motivations to run have really inspired us all.”

The companywide competition was part of Emeritus’ “Better You” Employee Wellness program that provides a number of health tools, events and coaches to help employees improve their health. Emeritus is also sponsoring half the registration for any of its Seattle Home Office employees who want to participate in the marathon, which has expanded the Emeritus Rock ‘n’ Roll team to 60 runners.


Oscar Ruiz, Cook, Emeritus at Lake Mary, Lake Mary, Florida

Oscar went from being unemployed and living in his car with his daughter to being Employee of the Month after he started a job as a cook at Emeritus at Lake Mary in Florida. Once employed, Oscar bought a pair of running shoes from Goodwill for $3.99 because he loved to run. They were one size too small, but he trained for the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon in them anyway. Three Emeritus running coaches teamed up to buy Oscar a new pair of shoes so he could train for the race.

Beverlee Hamby, Memory Care Director, Emeritus at Harden Ranch, Salinas, Calif.

At 50, Beverlee realized she was really overweight, and turned to running. By the time she submitted her Rock ‘n’ Roll essay, she had lost 215 lbs. Having lost both parents and in-laws to cancer, Beverlee is passionate about raising money to fight the disease. In fact, in the 17 marathons she has run in her lifetime, she has raised more than $200,000 for cancer research. When she’s not out running or fundraising, she is at Emeritus’ Harden Ranch community holding her Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Training Class for about six to seven of her younger (65-70 year old) dementia residents. They walk laps in the courtyard and incorporate stretching and cross training into their normal daily activities. She even brings in a bunch of her old marathon medals for the residents to wear.

Patty Watson, Assistant Executive Director, Emeritus at Echelon Lake, Voorhees, N.J.

After the recent sudden death of her husband, Patty found herself a single mother of three grown daughters. As a runner prior to his death, Patty is looking at this race as a chance for a fresh start of renewal, strength, and courage to get back in the game of life. And to show her daughters that their mom still has it.

Febe Leyva, Community Relations Director, Emeritus at Desert Springs in El Paso, Texas

Febe and her two daughters immigrated to the US in 1986, and is now a U.S. citizen. She is running this race to show her daughters that anything is possible in their new country. In her essay, she said, “I am running this race for my mother, Irene, who died of cancer; and for all the beautiful people with Alzheimer’s that have touched and changed my life in so many ways. What better way to remember and honor all of them than to run a marathon in their honor.”

Jessica Dodgin, Housekeeping, Emeritus at Garrison Creek Lodge, Walla Walla, Wash.

Last year, Jessica noticed that she had become overweight and was hardly able to perform her daily job functions. She slowly started to eat healthier and add a little exercise, and soon she had lost 70 lbs. Her success inspired her to start a “Biggest Loser” weight-loss challenge for employees at her community, and they have since lost 5-75 lbs. through their new eating and exercise activities. Now she is looking for a new challenge. Jessica will be walking the half marathon, and she hopes it will inspire her staff to continue their efforts.

Joe Kleid, Community Relations Director, Lake Springs, Buford, Georgia

After researching his family tree, Joe was startled to learn that both his grandfathers died at an early age of a massive heart attack. In recent years, his aunts, uncles and now his parents are struggling with heart issues. Joe is determined to define his own health destiny and running this race is a first step. Newly married, Joe’s future plans involve starting a family and becoming the oldest living great-grandfather in his family’s history.

Bernice Lee, Life Enrichment Director, Emeritus at Laguna Creek, Elkgrove, Calif.

This May marked three years since Bernice’s last chemotherapy treatment. Two years ago, her doctor told her to lose 20 lbs., so she lost 50 lbs. One year ago, Bernice completed her first 5K. Never one to rest, this race is perfect for the “What’s Next?” on her life agenda.

Jennifer Ferguson, Business Office Director, Emeritus at Melbourne, Melbourne, Florida

Jennifer says she grew up being the “big kid,” with weight problems following her into her early 20s. Her problem, she admits, is that she never learned to move. At 25, she got moving, and it worked. By her 31st birthday, Jennifer had lost 100 pounds, and credits 100% of her success to exercise. As expressed in her essay, Jennifer says, “I would have never dreamed in a million years I’d be running, much less entering a ½ marathon. Now I want to be in the best shape possible and watch as my body ages in reverse.”

Deborah Montgomery, Divisional Director Life Enrichment, South Central Division

The last two years have brought Deborah a few important milestones and much hardship. She lost her mom and several family members, got a new job, and turned 50. Her stress level was so high she stopped taking care of herself, and took up smoking again. On her mom’s birthday in February, Deborah made a promise to herself to get her body healthy again. She has joined a run club and this race will help her achieve her overall goal: A Better Deborah.

Contact: MaryBeth Dagg, 206-554-1908