Wednesday, September 7, 2011
By Lisa Hanchey Photos by Robin May

Pennington Biomedical and River Ranch aim to make Lafayette’s corporate workforce healthier.

20110907-health-0101
 “We have the best quality of life in the world in Acadiana; it would be nice to spend a little longer time here,” says attorney Clay Allen, one of the driving forces behind the Pennington Quest for Wellness. Pictured with Allen is Mary Beth Langlinais, general manager of River Ranch’s City Club, where the two-day event will be held.

Ready to take a step toward a healthy lifestyle? You can take a big one on Sept. 17 at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center Quest for Wellness at Town Square in River Ranch. Proceeds from this 5K run/walk and speaker symposiums will benefit Pennington’s research projects.

Pennington, the largest academic-based nutrition research center in the world, concentrates its studies on preventing conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, dementia and heart disease.

The Pennington Quest for Wellness is promoting fitness and healthier lifestyles for corporate employees at work as well as at home. The two-day event, sponsored by City Club at River Ranch, the Village of River Ranch, Lafayette General Medical Center, Dwight Andrus Insurance and Event Rental, is being spearheaded by River Ranch developer Robert Daigle and Allen & Gooch Managing Partner Clay Allen.

A couple of years ago, Allen, who is chairman of LGMC’s board of trustees, joined Pennington’s board, with Daigle following a year later. Through his tenure with LGMC, Allen saw firsthand the impact of diet-related disease on Acadiana’s aging population. “We have such a great quality of life here, with the culture, food and music, so the notion of a healthy lifestyle and longevity is something we are concerned about,” Allen says. 

After serving on Pennington’s board, Daigle and Allen decided to create a wellness event to show Lafayette what the center is doing to improve the health and culture of our population. “We saw the opportunity to create an event where employers can look at adopting wellness programs that will help bend the cost curve down for insurance, add to employee productivity and also provide a culture of showing that employers care for employees,” Allen says. “We saw it as one of the best things we could do for the community.”

Opened in 1988, the Pennington Center is a 403,000-square-foot core research complex in Baton Rouge that houses 53 laboratories, 19 core service labs, inpatient and outpatient clinics, a research kitchen and more than $20 million in advanced technology. “The purpose of the quest is two-fold: We want to raise money to fund their research, but probably of more importance, gain some recognition in this community as to what Pennington is all about,” explains City Club General Manager Mary Beth Langlinais.

Although Acadiana offers numerous run/walk-type events, many participants shelve their athletic shoes once they complete a race. But Allen says he hopes the Pennington Quest will encourage participants to continue with a health and wellness program throughout the year. “The whole purpose is trying to create a model where people go to the event, listen to speakers, get introduced to academic and practical research and keep up with what they have learned,” he says.

City Club fitness coach Brian Broussard, who is promoting the event, stresses the importance of regular physical activity for corporate employees. “When a corporation’s employees get out there and get healthier or more fit, then they become happier employees,” he says. “That’s really the goal of the Quest for Wellness, is we want to get more people active. And, running or walking a 5K is just a small goal for them to get there.”

For this first-ever collaboration with Pennington, local sponsors are lining up two days of events. On Friday, Sept. 16, City Club is holding a sponsor reception from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. featuring Dr. Larry Ohlhauser, author of the best-selling book, The Healthy CEO. Ohlhauser encourages people to “Be the CEO of their health,” by taking charge of their physical, relational and financial wellness. Tickets are $50.

Friday evening's keynote speaker, sponsored by Dwight Andrus Insurance, is Marc Hamilton, Ph.D., professor and inactivity researcher at Pennington. Hamilton's 6 p.m. discussion will offer practical tools on boosting the amount of activity in your day. Hamilton is the developer of the new research discipline “inactivity physiology.” The reception will feature healthy light hors d’oeuvres prepared by City Club executive chef Bill Schwanz accompanied by organic red wine. Tickets to the evening reception are complimentary for race participants and $10 for non participants.

On Saturday, registration kicks off at 7 a.m. for the 5K run/walk. The race begins at 8 a.m., followed by an awards ceremony with prizes at 9:30 a.m. Town Square events, including interactive booths, Fun Jumps, water features and kids’ Zumba, start at 10 a.m. Food and beverages will be available for purchase at the City Club Grill and Bar and Village Café. “We have more heart-healthy menu items than the restaurant’s ever had,” Schwanz says. “So, there will be a salad bar setup, several well-balanced items and a fresh fish of the day. We also offer special requests if you have any dietary needs, like gluten-free options.”

At 10 a.m., Valerie Myers, Ph.D., an instructor in clinical psychology at Pennington, will discuss “Behavioral Factors in Weight Loss & Maintenance.” Myers’ current research focuses on obesity and diabetes, as well as chronic disease prevention and management and behavior changes for at-risk populations. Following at 11 a.m. is a presentation by Catrine Tudor-Locke, Ph.D., associate professor and walking behavior researcher at Pennington, who will discuss “How Many Steps is Enough.” Tudor-Locke is a world-renowned leader in objective physical activity assessment and motivation, with a focus on using pedometers.

After the seminars, popular show band Bag of Donuts will perform live from noon to 2 p.m. “The ‘donuts’ will be the only unhealthy notion at the event,” Langlinais says with a laugh. 

During the Quest, City Club memberships will be offered at a special rate. Through Oct. 15, race participants can join the club with no initiation fee. Memberships include a complimentary consultation with one of City Club’s fitness coaches. City Club benefits include “Lunch and Learn” programs, which include a healthy lunch and speakers on various wellness topics. 

Attorney Allen sees the Quest as an ongoing event with follow-up activities during the year. “We have the best quality of life in the world in Acadiana,” he says. “It would be nice to be spend a little longer time here.”

Early bird race entry fee is $35, which includes the 5K walk/run, Town Square events, symposiums, Friday night reception, food and music. After Sept. 1, the fee will be $50. All participants are invited to join the complimentary City Club Walk/Run Program, starting Aug. 9, to prepare for the race. To register for the race or the program, sign up online or print the entry form at www.cityclubatriverranch.com. For more information, call (337) 216-6566.

Race Day Events: September 17, 2011

7 a.m. - Race Registration and Packet Pickup
8 a.m. - Race starts
9:30 a.m. - Awards
10 a.m.–2 p.m. - Town Square events (food, music, booths, kids activities)
10 a.m. - Symposium I, Valerie Myers, Ph.D. – “Behavioral Factors in Weight Loss & Management”
11 a.m. - Symposium II, Catrine Tudor-Locke, Ph.D. – “How Many Steps is Enough”
12 p.m.–2 p.m. - Live Music by Bag of Donuts

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