Public Health Champion Awardees
Recognizing Pueblo’s Public Health Leaders
The Health Department annually recognizes an individual, business, or organization’s significant contribution to Pueblo’s public health as a role model in our community during April.
Below are past winners.
Thank you for Your Dedication and Significant Contribution to Pueblo’s Health
Sheena Archuleta, co-founder of Addict2Athlete and co-owner of Stay Invincible Colorado, is a role model for public health in the Pueblo community. Sheena was chosen for her advocacy for people struggling with addiction.
Sheena lost her father to suicide and has shared her story of surviving his death while maintaining sobriety from her addiction through exercise and support. Sheena is a patient advocate for Conifer Health Solutions and works part-time at Minnequa Credit Union. Outside of her vocation, Sheena advocates for people struggling with addiction. Sheena has also supported various other non-profits in her efforts, especially organizations that help animals. Here is a list of Sheena’s accomplishments and community efforts.
- Sheena is an Ironman Triathlete and Ultra Marathon Runner. She is also a former crack cocaine user and has been sober for over 16 years.
- Sheena and her Addict2Athlete non-profit organization have helped people not just abstain from addiction, but flourish as healthy individuals for over 15 years.
- Addict2Athlete helps people recover from addiction through education and exercise. Sheena has run Addict2Athlete alone with her board of directors and one coach offering free fitness classes to the community for over 15 years.
- Sheena teaches Addict2Athlete classes at the Pueblo Youth Corrections Facility one night a week.
- Sheena and Addict2Athlete have raised money for other nonprofits through annual events such as Hero Run.
- Addict2Athlete supports Pride Events.
- Sheena coaches at Stay Invincible Colorado days and nights, helping people achieve their fitness goals, in addition to working a full-day at Conifer Health Solutions.
- Sheena has inspired several women to start their fitness journey by running with them at 4:00 a.m. before work; when there is no time to help others, she makes time.
- Sheena founded raydensathleticfriends.org named after her first pet Rayden. Through this foundation truckloads of dog and cat food have been donated to PAWS and SOCO Spay and Neuter.
Rick and Andrea Higgins, owners of Geared Up Auto were chosen as the 2022 Public Health Champion for their commitment to reducing the negative impacts of poverty on health and safety for community residents. Over the past two years, during the height of the pandemic, Rick and Andrea stepped up to support PDPHE’s Care Coordination clients, including families of children with special health care needs. They donated Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets, complete with all the fixings, for families whom without their support, would not have celebrated the holidays. For Christmas, they also donated personal gifts for multiple families in need, including blankets for kids who requested blankets for warmth.
Rick and Andrea have a long history of giving back to the Pueblo community. Annually for the past seven years, Rick and Andrea donated 2,000 back-to-school backpacks for families filled with basic school supplies. Whenever there were leftover supplies, they sponsored teachers in need of classroom supplies.
In 2021, Geared Up Auto also donated automobiles to families needing reliable transportation and have set a goal of donating cars every year to families in need. Rick and Andrea have truly set an example in their efforts and generosity. Thank you for “paying it forward” and congratulations!
Public health is excited to announce Gene Wilcoxson as the recipient of the 2021 Pueblo’s Public Health Champion Award!
Gene has been a volunteer in the Medical Reserve Corps for many years contributing numerous hours to assist and enhance the community. He has helped during emergency responses such as wildfires, assisted in public education, and the COVID-19 response.
Gene was chosen for his commitment as a volunteer to Pueblo‘s COVID-19 response as he was recognized as someone who showed up no matter the elements. People who worked with him stated he always went above and beyond to help in any way possible and lifted the whole teams’ spirit at the mass vaccination site.
Gene volunteered countless hours and filled numerous roles at the Joint Information Center, COVID-19 testing clinics, and mass vaccination site during the COVID-19 response. He demonstrated extraordinary leadership, passion, and heart for serving Pueblo’s community.
It was stated multiple times Gene was positive, friendly, and respectful of the safety of people around him, especially during high-stress situations. Gene demonstrated effective communication, a positive attitude, and teamwork on a regular basis. Gene quickly became a team lead and helped workers get the resources needed to complete their jobs. He exemplified professionalism and helped alleviate peoples’ fear by inspiring confidence in them when they arrived for their COVID-19 vaccination.
One of the people who nominated Gene said, “There is not enough space and time to express how much this man impacted the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment and the community of Pueblo.”
Congratulations Gene and thank you for your commitment to public health!
The award was presented posthumously by the Pueblo County Board of Health. A community selection committee chose Mrs. Reid for her promotion of health and protecting the environment.
Mrs. Reid’s involvement as a role model for public health was observed in many areas:
- She worked for Crossroads’ Turning Points for over 15 years, most recently as the Director of Prevention, working in primary and secondary prevention of substance abuse issues.
- In 2008, she served on the Pueblo Coalition to Prevent Underage Drinking and Drugs; that same year, she co-founded the Pueblo Alliance for Health Teens that created healthier alternatives for youth to engage.
- She secured hundreds of thousands of dollars for prevention-focused work in Pueblo, including the Strategic Prevention Framework grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) which provided funding for One Community, curriculums in schools, and special projects such as working with administrators at Dolores Huerta to improve graduation rates, among many other projects.
- For nearly a decade, she served as the backbone of One Community coalition to collectively address youth substance use issues. She provided a space for resource sharing between agencies and guided the development of common goals and metrics at the Annual Learning Summit and built a public data dashboard to provide updated social determinants of health indicators accessible to community partners and residents alike.
- She volunteered as a leader with several health department initiatives including serving as a Key Leader on Communities That Care since 2016, the community pod facilitator for the Substance Use Response Ecosystem since 2017, and co-chair of the funding workgroup on the Youth Behavioral Health Campaign Committee since 2019. She was also an active member of the Partners in Advancing Population Health, and the district 70 Health and Wellness Advisory Council.
- For several years she coordinated the administration of Healthy Kids Colorado Surveys in both school districts to gather data around risk and protective factors of Pueblo’s youth. This data is vital in informing numerous youth health initiatives in Pueblo including many at PDPHE.
Mrs. Reid was recognized in 2020 for displaying significant contributions to Pueblo’s public health.
Dr. Shaun Gogarty has been a momentous figure in the local battle against substance abuse. As a part of the original Heroin Task Force, Dr. Gogarty helped bring community members and partners to the table to collaboratively plan how to address substance abuse. His continued active participation in the evolution of the Task Force to SURE (Substance Use Response Ecosystem) has been crucial. He is quick to respond to requests and eager to assist. Some of the ways he is taking action include:
- Providing education to any group that requests information on substance use in Pueblo County. For example, the Greater Chamber of Commerce.
- Working with both hospitals to change policies and procedures to enable individuals to start medically assisted treatment (MAT) when in the emergency room.
- Instrumental in bringing enough MAT providers to Pueblo; increasing treatment capacity to over 2,000.
- Sits as a community representative on the LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) Key Stakeholder Policy Committee; making LEAD a reality in Pueblo County.
On top of these commitments, Dr. Gogarty retired after 23 years as an Emergency Room physician at Parkview Medical Center. As Dr. Tom Greidanus (Director of the Emergency Medicine Group) said: “Not many make it that long.”
2018 Southern Colorado Health Network
2017 Kim Arline
2016 Pueblo Community College
2015 Southern Colorado Runners Club
2014 Dr. Anne Courtright
2013 John Panepinto, BPh
2012 Dr. Jarvis Ryals