Capt. Spike Long wins 2008 Presidential Community Leadership Award

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (July 23, 2008) – Capt Spike Long, Aviation Training Systems Program Manager (PMA205), has won the 2008 President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Community Leadership Award. This award is given out annually to no more than fifty individuals who improve the lives of individuals within his/her community by providing or enhancing opportunities to engage in sports, physical activities, or fitness-related programs. The word “community” may refer to a State, organization, sports league or team, business, city, or community-based group.

“Capt Long really cares about his people and their wellbeing,’ said Sunny Even, Aviation Training Systems Deputy Program Manager. “He lets everyone in the program office know that their health and welfare are important to him. He does not just talk about fitness; his actions demonstrate his commitment to their health, and this award acknowledges that.”

“We have two fitness periods each week, usually lasting about one hour on Friday morning and Monday afternoon,” said Cdr. Mike Prevost, who manages PMA205’s Health Promotion Program. “We have volunteer coaches to help set up groups that want to run, swim, ride bikes or lift weights. This fitness time is open to everyone in the program office, military, government civilians and contractors (as permitted by their companies).

“After they finish their chosen activity, they clean up and come to work,” added Prevost. “This fitness program is a success because it helps when the boss says it’s OK to take time for yourself.”

PMA205’s Health Promotion Program sponsors awareness, education and motivational activities to maintain or improve employee health. Subjects range across nutrition, injury prevention, tobacco use, and exercise physiology. Program policy is derived from guidance in OPNAVINST 6110.1H and the Civilian Human Resources Manual, Subchapter 792.4, which allow duty time for participation in command-sponsored health promotion activities.

“We have healthy food snack stations around the office where we can get organic fruits and vegetables, granola bars and other items,” said Prevost. “A fitness library is set up to encouraged people to bring in their articles, magazines, books, etc., to share with the rest of the office. The idea is to get people to think positively about their health on a daily basis. Many have found once they commit to twice a week, they’re motivated to find time to get out there three and four and more times a week.”

This program has had a number of success stories and here are a few of them:

“I can't tell you how many times I'd received an article, tip, or hint from Cdr. Prevost that I was able to work into my own exercise routine to improve my health and fitness,” said Ross Wilhelm, now with Commander, Naval Air Forces. “He gave me some great tips while training for my second marathon which allowed me to finish the race feeling much better - and almost 15 minutes faster - than my first marathon (which I'd run ten years earlier!)”

“The most fun event I participated in during my time at NAVAIR was a race called the "Cutthroat Classic." The race follows the Pacific Crest Trail for 11 miles across the Cutthroat Pass in the Washington Cascades,” added Wilhelm. “It features a climb of 1,970 feet (from approximately 5,000 feet to 7,000 feet) over the first five miles of the race. I got some high altitude and hill training ideas that made the race a lot easier for me.”

“This program came along at the right time. One of my friend's goals in life was to swim the Bay Bridge crossing, that long 4.4 mile expanse that people fear driving over to get to the beach. The last time I did this was nine years ago and I remember how awful it was,” said Mindy Johnson, Deputy Program Manager, Maritime and Unmanned Systems Training Systems. “So with the benefit of the Captain's exercise program and some self motivation (fear), I began training for the swim and it worked. I completed the swim on June 8. It was still awful but I do have the bragging rights to say that I completed it in two hours 13 minutes and I placed 230th out of 640 swimmers.”

“Over the past few years in PMA205, healthy living was not an option. I have been a vegetarian for years but I also chose eating carbs to get that quick fill while on the go. Their was always action items, deadlines, travel, reviews, reports and then you leave your 11 hour work day, commute for an hour, try to spend quality time with family that included a quick dinner, homework, bath, story time and then bed. I knew I was at the point in my life where due to my size, it was time to change. I had all the excuses not to exercise,” said Hilton Thom, lead systems engineer for bombs now working in Precision Strike Weapons, PMA201.

“When Capt. Long introduced and championed a healthier lifestyle program within the office and encouraged exercise every Friday and a healthy snack station, I had no excuse to but to get on the band wagon. A healthy lifestyle in the office coupled with a healthy life style at home was the turning point,” added Thom. “Thanks to Cdr. Prevost for his wealth of exercise advice, things have changed for me. I adopted a new philosophy of "eat to live" not "live to eat". With the adoption of this lifestyle, my wife lost 137 pounds and I have lost 140 pounds. We both ran two 5K races and plan to run two more before November. I give thanks to all my co-workers in PMA205 for their support and encouragement.”

“Most of us are just happy to be out walking and running and biking again after too many years ignoring our health,” said Even. “I’m not going to be running any races this week, but I can handle distances and elevations I couldn’t a year ago. The best part is knowing this is just the start.”

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