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Charleston Resident Overcomes Illness To Win National Fitness Award

Local woman’s perseverance through cystic fibrosis and a double lung transplant an inspiration to the community


Wednesday, May 25, 2011 9:48 am EDT



Public Company Information:

"By keeping fit as we age, our bodies are better prepared to handle the challenges that life presents, which is one of the reasons why Humana offers the Healthways SilverSneakers program to our Medicare Advantage members."

CHARLESTON, W.V.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, in the midst of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM), the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA), Healthways and the Charleston community are celebrating Tera Winfree, the national winner of the 2011 Richard L. Swanson Inspiration Award, at the Charleston YMCA. Winfree stood out among more than 500 nominees for the award, designed to honor a member of the Healthways SilverSneakers® Fitness Program whose healthy behavior has made a difference in his or her own life and also inspired others.

“Tera’s remarkable story is a testament to the positive difference that a healthy lifestyle and keeping active makes when it comes to recovering from serious health issues,” said Rae Godsey, M.D., medical director, senior products, Humana. “By keeping fit as we age, our bodies are better prepared to handle the challenges that life presents, which is one of the reasons why Humana offers the Healthways SilverSneakers program to our Medicare Advantage members.”

Winfree, 56, has lived with cystic fibrosis all of her life, but has always made exercise a big part of her life. Even with compromised lungs, including difficulty breathing, Winfree manages to play tennis, ride her bicycle, and even play volleyball and basketball.

Six years ago, Winfree’s condition took a drastic turn for the worse when she contracted the flu, pneumonia and a lung infection. Before long, Winfree went from toting a tennis bag everywhere to carrying an oxygen tank. The ever-present oxygen tank was with her when she visited the Charleston YMCA for the first time as she searched for a place to continue getting the physical activity that had always played a major role in her life.

It was through her Humana Medicare Advantage health plan offered through the PEIA that Winfree found SilverSneakers and a network of new friends. She settled into the SilverSneakers Muscular Strength & Range of Movement class at the YMCA, where she could exercise in a chair and keep her body moving. The popular SilverSneakers program is taught by certified instructors, offering older adults an innovative blend of physical activity, healthy lifestyle direction and social opportunities.

Despite her effort to stay active, Winfree’s condition deteriorated. Eventually, she could no longer drive herself to the YMCA and had to rely on others to get to and from class. The simplest tasks became laborious and Winfree was truly battling for her life. With her weakened lung capacity she could barely eat, and her weight plummeted to 91 pounds.

When exercise was no longer an option for this athlete at heart, her SilverSneakers friends and instructor called to check on her regularly and encouraged her to get on the national transplant list. In November 2009, Tera received a double lung transplant at the Cleveland Clinic. According to Cindy Boggs, Program AdvisorSM at the Charleston YMCA, “within seven days after her surgery, Tera was taking a few steps, and only 60 days later, in January 2010, Tera drove herself to the Charleston YMCA and walked into her SilverSneakers class without her oxygen tank.”

More than a year after rejoining her fellow SilverSneakers classmates and less than two years after receiving her healthy lungs, Winfree is as active as ever. In addition to exercising in SilverSneakers classes, she’s also playing in a competitive tennis league three times a week.

“I’m in shock about being the national winner,” says Winfree. “I’m honored and thank Healthways for SilverSneakers. When I first started out, I couldn’t do all the weightlifting and other things at the gym, but I was able to participate in the SilverSneakers class; it was important for me to keep my body moving for as long as I could.” She continues to keep it moving, bicycling 30 miles a week and attending SilverSneakers YogaStretch classes twice a week. “Anyone who donates their lungs or other organs is giving you a gift,” she adds. “I have to preserve that gift and exercise helps me do that.”

Winfree is not alone when it comes to inspiring a community. In fact, she is in the company of SilverSneakers members from three other states who are being recognized as regional winners for the strides they’ve made in improving their health while overcoming numerous challenges. Sally Konopka (Kent, Wash.) has improved her quality of life despite the daily challenges of rheumatoid arthritis. Roger Wadley (Grove, Okla.) has made great strides after suffering a severe stroke that left him partially paralyzed. Thelma Brasuell (Van Buren, Ark.) has seen great improvements in her life despite living with symptoms of dementia – at 94, she continues to be independent, self-sufficient and socially active.

In this, the eighth year of awarding the Richard L. Swanson Inspiration Award, Healthways’ SilverSneakers Fitness Program once again proves that you’re never too old – or young – to adopt an active and healthy lifestyle.

About Humana

Humana Inc., headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, is a leading health care company that offers a wide range of insurance products and health and wellness services that incorporate an integrated approach to lifelong well-being. By leveraging the strengths of its core businesses, Humana believes it can better explore opportunities for existing and emerging adjacencies in health care that can further enhance wellness opportunities for the millions of people across the nation with whom the company has relationships.

More information regarding Humana is available to investors via the Investor Relations page of the company’s web site at http://www.humana.com, including copies of:

  • Annual reports to stockholders
  • Securities and Exchange Commission filings
  • Most recent investor conference presentations
  • Quarterly earnings news releases
  • Replays of most recent earnings release conference calls
  • Calendar of events (includes upcoming earnings conference call dates and times, as well as planned interaction with research analysts and institutional investors)
  • Corporate Governance Information

About Healthways’ Fitness Programs

Healthways, the leading well-being improvement company, offers the award-winning SilverSneakers® Fitness Program, the nation’s leading exercise program designed exclusively for older adults, and Prime Fitness, a comprehensive physical activity program for adult health plan members and employees of large companies. Healthways’ fitness offerings are available to over 7 million individuals at more than 14,000 participating fitness and wellness centers in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. For more information on Healthways’ fitness programming, call 888-423-4632 or visit www.healthways.com or www.silversneakers.com.


Humana Corporate Communications
Jeff Blunt, 513-826-7094