POR: Sheryl VanHole March 08, 2009

Fit and healthy at age 60

Sheryl VanHole is the health promotion administrator at the Rocky Mountain Health Plans fitness center.

At 60 years old, Sheryl VanHole claims she has never been healthier or more physically fit.

VanHole attributes her health to her diet, morning walks and fitness classes at Rocky Mountain Health Plans, where she works. But equally important to VanHole’s overall wellness, she said, is the emotional and mental joy she gets from volunteering in Mesa County.

VanHole volunteers or has volunteered in various capacities for about 25 different organizations, such as Marillac Clinic’s Family Health Fiesta and the Master Gardener program.

“It’s so nice to be a part of the community, and, truthfully, it’s nice to feel like I’m making a difference,” VanHole said.

She grew up in an active household where her parents had to yell at her to come inside after sunset. Her family owned a vegetable farm where the Wal-Mart Supercenter, 2545 Rimrock Ave., now stands.

VanHole learned at an early age that there really wasn’t a market in Grand Junction for homemade mud pies.

“We would go down there and build roads and bridges and divert the water,” VanHole said.

VanHole earned a psychology degree at Colorado State University where she met her husband, Larry. The couple returned to Grand Junction after they finished college for Larry’s job as a pharmacist.

By the time she was 30, VanHole was ready for a change in her career. She enrolled at Mesa College, which it was called in the early 1980s, to become a nurse.

“I was one of the oldest on campus,” VanHole said. “Nursing school was tough, but it was very rewarding.”

She graduated with a nursing degree in 1986 and immediately went to work at St. Mary’s Hospital in the emergency room and on the Flight for Life helicopter when necessary. Flight for Life is now called CareFlight.

About a year later, VanHole accepted a full-time position with Rocky Mountain Health Plans to be a home health nurse.

“I thought I might like home health a lot because it really is helping individuals in their homes so they can stay in their homes and remain healthy,” VanHole said. “I just felt like it was something I should be doing. I loved it. I loved it.”

VanHole has stayed with Rocky Mountain for 23 years. She has held a myriad of jobs with the company. Her current role is health promotion administrator. She is the community liaison between the community and Rocky Mountain on all things wellness-related. It is the perfect
blend of nursing and wellness promotion in the community, VanHole said.

“I tell people I have the best job ever, and I do,” she added.

Tiffany Dawe has worked with VanHole for about two years at Rocky Mountain. Nearly 20 years younger than VanHole, Dawe said her coworker has a passion for health, a passion for volunteering and a passion for life.

“I don’t think people, unless you work closely with her or are a close friend of hers, realize all she does in the community,” Dawe said. “She doesn’t live her life like most 60-year-olds. My mother is two years older than her, and they are completely different people. Sheryl has no limitations. When I’m that age, I want to be that person. She’s always mindful of her entire

VanHole has no children or pets. She has dedicated all her energy to her husband of 36 years, her plants and her community. VanHole is a master gardener and an avid grower of herbs.

“I love to cook,” she said.

Through her job at Rocky Mountain, VanHole is involved with many health and wellness-related events such as the Grand Valley Health Fair and the Family West Health Fair.

In 1991, seeking to meet more people and donate time outside of work, VanHole joined the Junior Service League.

She has served in nearly every capacity within the organization and was given the 2008 Patti Milius Service Award for her contributions to the league.

Through the league, VanHole has chaired Viva El Vino and Walk 4 Life, an event dedicated to raising money for underinsured or uninsured women to receive mammograms.

“It ranks among the great experiences of my life,” VanHole said of chairing the Walk 4 Life. “I’ve had several close friends with breast cancer. It really was a labor of love.”

Looking back at her life of service to the wellness of Grand Junction, VanHole sees herself as someone destined to be exactly where she is, doing exactly what she’s doing.

“I’m the person who organizes things and likes everyone to be happy,” she said. “People have said if and when I retire, what will I do? I tell them I will do a lot of what I do now. I see myself always volunteering in some way.”


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