Gerry's Testimonial

“I have always been a morning person, even from the time I was a toddler. It is natural for me,” explained Hesston resident Gerry Epp. At 5 a.m., the early riser can be found outside the Bluestem Wellness Center front doors, waiting for them to be unlocked. His daily dedication recently resulted in him swimming his 1,000th mile in the wellness center pool.

He began logging his miles on Jan. 1, 2011 and on June 6, 2019 his 1,000th mile goal was reached. Each week Epp swims anywhere from two to four miles in the wellness center’s lap pool. He claims that logging his miles has been a method that has kept him accountable to his daily exercise.

“Logging has been significant in terms of holding me to the fire; otherwise I might just want to sleep in. There is something about a visual log book and not wanting there to be a gap in it where I missed a day.”

The 76-year-old has been swimming for decades. Even as an adolescent, Epp said he was never into sports but was always comfortable in the water. He took swimming lessons and was a certified lifeguard. “I didn’t excel at swimming in terms of racing but swimming is something I have always been comfortable with and enjoyed,” Epp said. “I am not a speed swimmer; I think of myself as a turtle in the water. I do a very relaxed pace.”

A little over 40 years ago, Epp decided to give up smoking and pursue wellness. Staying healthy is a big motivation for his daily exercise. He claims that swimming not only benefits his physical well-being but it has a positive effect on his mental health too. “My early morning swims are often a meditative time. Sometimes I let my mind wander and I think about all sorts of things. Sometimes I meditate prayerfully. Almost always, music will begin playing in my mind and I swim to the rhythm of the song.”

Though swimming has been a lifelong interest, once he retired from his 30-year career in social work at Prairie View, Epp began to have more time in his schedule to swim. He said he doesn’t know of anyone else who has accomplished swimming 1,000 miles at the wellness center. “To my knowledge, Gerry is the first person to swim 1,000 miles in our pool,” said Jason Jones, Bluestem Wellness director. “I really admire his dedication and proud that he is a member here at our wellness center.”

Epp already has his eyes set on his next goal, which is to reach 1,111 miles sometime next year. He says this goal derived from the date he began logging miles in the pool, which was 1/1/11. For the past two years, Epp has commemorated his birthday by swimming a lap for each year of his life. He will turn 77 years old this December. “I enjoyed celebrating my birthday that way and I intend to continue to do so as long as I am able.”

Aryn's Testimonial

“My name is Aryn. Growing up, I struggled to be healthy and “Find my Purpose”, so to speak. I was never healthy and always overweight. When I attended Tabor College, I started to realize I wanted to get healthier, yet I still struggled. It wasn’t until I came back to Hesston after graduating that I realized I HAD to get healthy and couldn’t make excuses anymore. In January of 2017, I made the same New Year’s resolution that millions of others made. If it weren’t for the Wellness Center, I couldn’t have stuck to this resolution. It was an environment that I enjoyed going to because of the employees and the members from the community who would be there as well. With a community like Hesston, those relationships are not just a “passing by” relationship. They continue to grow each time you talk with them and see them. I dropped 50 pounds and realized that I wanted to help others on their journey as well, knowing just how hard it was.

I landed my dream job and am now a Wellness Coordinator. I work with 1,100 companies across the United States to implement corporate wellness programs. Two years ago, this job wasn’t even a reality with the weight I was at. I have always said that if it wasn’t for the Wellness Center, I wouldn’t have realized my purpose and would still be unhappy. Although I now live in Wichita, I have continued my passion for the gym and helping others. 

I want to thank everyone there, and encourage you guys to continue running a great program with great facilities and employees!”