Health Expo idea originated with ex-Y employee

by | Jan 16, 2007 | News Articles

Health Expo idea originated with ex-Y employee

A long-time Pueblo health and fitness guru continues to impact the Pueblo community even after his departure from the local work force.

Puebloan Ben Valdez was the brainchild of the upcoming Pueblo Health Expo that will be held Jan. 27 at the Pueblo Convention Center, the details of which were reported by The Pueblo Chieftain earlier this month. Valdez worked as an administrator at the Pueblo YMCA for 24 years before leaving to become Director of Community Education and Recreation for Widefield School District No. 3.

It was Ben who mentioned to an Active Community Environments focus group he served on that, during his YMCA tenure he used to field tons of calls from people and organizations wanting to conduct small health fairs. His message to the focus group was that he would like to see all of the health-related organizations in Pueblo conduct one huge annual health exposition that the entire community could attend.

The Pueblo Health Expo is the result of those discussions. Local health leaders from the community have cooked up a beauty of an inaugural event to get the Pueblo community on the right health and fitness track in 2007.

The Pueblo Health Expo will take place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will be a free community event aimed at promoting physical activity, healthy food choices, disease prevention, safety, recreation and overall well-being.

“The idea is to change the culture of Pueblo,” explained Cathy Dehn, who heads the Pueblo City-County Health Department’s Steps to a Healthier Pueblo County project and is involved with a multitude of health-related initiatives in the community.

The Expo will provide FREE health and vision screenings as well as fitness assessments for the first 500 participants. There will be screenings for blood pressure, pulse, oxygen concentration in the blood, lung function, vision, blood sugar, cardio function, strength, flexibility, body mass index and even stress and depression.

The event also will have fitness demonstrations and keynote presenters on healthy lifestyle topics. One keynote presenter will be John Register, a former Paralympian who is now a motivational speaker.

A second speaker will be Kenna Mercer, a life-long diabetic who has faced numerous physical problems throughout her life. As one who has remained positive throughout her physical ailments, the topic of her address — “A String of Blessings,” fittingly describes her attitude about life.

An added bonus will be three different cooking demonstrations aimed at promoting nutritious eating habits.

More information and a complete schedule of activities is available at or 583-4518.


The 2007 racing season in Pueblo won’t officially begin until Feb. 3 when the annual Frostbite Five will take place at City Park. There is a new twist to the race this season with a noncompetitive 5K fun walk added to the 5-mile run. Walkers get a $5 reduction on the entry fee but still get a long-sleeved T-shirt.

A weekend later (Feb. 11) is the Valentine’s Twosome, a couples race that injects a touch of romanticism into the world of running. Moved to Sunday this year, the race rewards chocolate treats to the top three total-time finishers of the male-female partners by age division as well as competitions for biggest, most romantic, most creative the ugliest batons.

Todd Kelley, athletic development director at CSU-Pueblo, is investigating the possibility of launching a three-race series in Pueblo either this year or in 2008. The series would include CSU-P’s Spank Blasing 5K, which this year is scheduled for April 21. The Cinco de Mayo in early May is another possible series race. The aim of such a series is to promote running as a part of overall health and fitness.

On Dec. 16, three Puebloans had their speed shoes on in the Jingle Bell 5K Run in Raton, NM. Abigail Duran, 13, was the fourth overall female in 21:38. Her mother, Theresa Duran, 29, won her age division in 24:37. And Kevin Hughes, 9, was second in the 14-under category in 26:36. Because of more than $2,000 in prize money, elite runners came out of the woodwork, with Kenyans being the top two male finishers and the top three females. Those who follow Colorado racing will recognize the name of Adam Rich of Colorado Springs in the results. Rich, 25, who generally dominates wherever he races, had to take a backseat to the Kenyans and others in this one. Despite running a salty 15:41, he was only fifth overall.

Matt Drake, 18, of Pueblo West followed his fifth place overall finish in the Rock Canyon Half-Marathon in early December by starting 2007 with a super 21:09 5K time in the Rescue Run in Colorado Springs on Jan. 1. That was good for sixth place overall. Michael Orendorff, 55, was 13th overall and second in his age division by clocking 46:50 in the 10K division there.

The first race of the popular four-race Winter Series in the Colorado Springs area on Jan. 13 was cancelled because of poor weather and snow and severe ice patches on the trail in Fox Run Regional Park. Thus, the 2007 Winter Series will consist of three races — on Jan 27, Feb 10 and Feb 24 (locations in calendar below). Runners who registered for Winter Series I only can use that registration for one of the other races in the series.

Race Calendar

• Jan. 27 – Winter Series II, 4M & 8M, 10 a.m., El Pomar Youth Sports Center in Colorado Springs (719-598-2953).
• Feb. 3 – Frostbite Five, 5K walk and 5M run, 10 a.m., Pueblo’s City Park (543-5151).
• Feb. 10 – Winter Series III, 5M & 10M, 10 a.m., Santa Fe Trail/Baptist Road Trailhead in Colorado Springs (719-598-2953).
• Feb. 11 – Valentine’s Twosome, 1.6M both partners, 9 a.m., Pueblo’s City Park (947-3682).
• Feb. 18 – Spring Runoff Tuneup (Prediction Series race), 10K, 9 a.m. Pueblo’s City Park (564-0847).
• Feb. 24 – Winter Series IV, 10K & 20K, 10 a.m., Wolford Elementary School in Black Forest (719-598-2953).
• March 4 – Spring Runoff, 9 a.m. for 2M walk and 5K, 10K and 10M runs, 8:45 a.m. for toddlers race and 1M Funner to be a Runner race at approximately 10:30 a.m., Dutch Clair Stadium (547-2777).

Send comments and fitness information to Gary Franchi via e-mail at