By Kyra Oliver
Dr Jo pumps a fist in the air and shouts, “Boom, RVA, Boom.” She then turns to the 250-plus crowd and asks everyone in their seats to make a pretend mirror with their hands and gaze into it. “Now yell – you sexy thing, don’t you ever die.”
This was the scene at the Westin Richmond when Dr. Joanne Litchten (known as Dr. Jo) took the stage for a highly anticipated Sports Backers celebration. America’s on-the-go health guru, Dr. Jo is known for offering real life, practical advice to keep people active and healthy around the country. Her stop in RVA was part of the first annual Active RVA Fitness Awards presented by Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Inc.
Along with Dr. Jo, the awards luncheon featured 38 companies and 22 schools as recipients of the “Active RVA Certification.” Designed as a way to recognize the region’s exceptional health leaders, Sports Backers established the certification as a way to honor role models in the community.
With the goal of transforming Greater Richmond into the most physically active community in the nation, Sports Backers is leading the area in embracing and celebrating an active lifestyle. Jon Lugbill, Executive Director of Sports Backers, is passionate about making this goal become a reality in RVA. “We are the 18th most physically active community in the country. We want to be the most physically active community in the country and we want to move the health of our region forward,” explains Lugbill. He points to this year’s winners, Bellwood Elementary for Outstanding School and Snagajob as Outstanding Company, as leading examples.
To become the most physically active, however, Lugbill says that we need to measure our progress. To that end, Sports Backers has also released Richmond’s first Fitness Scorecard. Data from the American College of Sports Medicine American Fitness Index was combined with an inventory of paved, multi-use trails and bikes lanes in the region. This year’s grade, announced Lugbill at the event, was a C+. Always one to focus on the positive, he was quick to tell the crowd that RVA is on its way to better grades in the future thanks to plans underway.
“If you are an employer, a school, or healthcare professional – keep setting the path and pace for what’s ahead,” says Tonya Mallory, CEO and co-founder of Health Diagnostic Laboratory, the presenting sponsor of the Active RVA Awards. “You are the ones who will make Greater Richmond the healthiest and most active community in the country.”
The Sports Backers are now accepting applications at http://www.sportsbackers.org/active-rva-community-awards from schools and companies wishing to become Active RVA certified.