WMU News

Sen. Dale Shugars launches wellness conference at WMU

Feb. 4, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- Several top-flight speakers, including physician/astronaut Jerry Linenger, will take part in a wellness conference Monday, Feb. 14, in Western Michigan University's Fetzer Center.

The conference, "Healthy Strides into the Next Century," is being presented by state Sen. Dale L. Shugars, WMU and 13 other sponsors. It will begin with registration at 8 a.m. and include opening remarks by Shugars from 8:45 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. as well as closing remarks by the legislator at 3 p.m.

Sugars, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health Policy, initiated the conference and says he hopes it will become an annual event.

"I realize that there are limited dollars available to meet the health care needs of our citizens," he says. "With escalating health insurance premiums, there's a need to seek alternatives to costly medical treatments and prescriptions through personal responsibility and healthy lifestyles. This conference will focus on some of those alternatives."

The keynote address will be presented by Linenger during the 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. luncheon. He will speak on "Embracing Challenges and Change: My 132 Days off the Planet." The recently retired Navy captain also will address area high school students from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum in downtown Kalamazoo.

Linenger served the Navy for 21 years in roles ranging from flight surgeon to research principal investigator to astronaut. He spent four and a half months aboard the Russian Space Station Mir in 1997, setting what at the time was a record for the longest duration space flight by an American male. While on Mir, he and his Russian crewmates faced numerous life-threatening difficulties, yet successfully completed all of their mission goals.

An East Detroit High School graduate, Linenger went on to earn a bachelor's degree in bioscience from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1977, a doctoral degree in medicine from Wayne State University in 1981, a master's degree in systems management from the University of Southern California in 1988, and a master's of public health degree in health policy as well as a doctoral degree in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina in 1989.

In addition to remarks by Linenger and Shugars, the wellness conference will include five other presentations. The topics, presenters and times are:

Co-sponsoring the conference along with Shugars and WMU are Borgess Health Alliance, Bronson Healthcare Group, the Fetzer Institute, Pharmacia & Upjohn, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan, Gazelle Sports, the Michigan State Medical Society, the Michigan Fitness Foundation, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Lam & Associates, the Kalamazoo County Chamber of Commerce, WKZO AM 590, and WWMT Channel 3.

To register, those interested may mail a check (made payable to WMU with Wellness Conference written on the memo line) to: 2000 Wellness Conference, P.O. Box 20492, Kalamazoo, MI 49019. For more information, call Sen. Shugars' office at (800) 635-0793.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

Media Advisory: To arrange an interview with physician/astronaut Jerry Linenger or another conference speaker, call Charlene McCallum in Sen. Shugars' office at (800) 635-0793.

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