Paradise Valley Unified To Hold Annual 5k Run on February 8th

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Some event information:

*   This is the 4th Annual Event which started the first year with just 200 participants in year one, and are now up to over 1,100 participants not including spectators;
*   The PVUSD Wellness Committee, which is made up of district nurses, Benefits Coordinator Carol Priborsky and Sheri Gilbert from Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) organize and manage the event with the help of district & community volunteers. The committee begins organizing the event each year during the summer;
*  PVUSD has held the very modest registration costs flat every year to encourage community and district participation and affordability for everyone;
*   Last year the district introduced a healthy team competition between sites/schools and continues the tradition this year. A trophy is given to the top three sites with the most registered team participation. There is also a grand traveling trophy engraved with the site winner each year that has the overall registered participants which stays with that site for the year and is highly desired! Dr. Jim Lee will be announcing this years winner of the grand trophy prior to the start of the race.
*   The Awards Ceremony commences at approximately 10 am for the top three finishers in each of eight age groups for both male and female participants;
*   Kids DASH events:  The dash events are organized after the runners are through on the track field for ages ten and under.  These events are free to participate. Depending on the number and ages (they do NOT have to register for the dash events and girls and boys run together) the announcer organizes the kids into age groups of say 3-4, 5-7, and 8-10. Runners race in  a 50 yard dash. Medals are given to all participants’ right after the finish by volunteers and as well as ribbons for 1st – 3rd as they cross the finish line;
*   Registration fees, along with generous donations from PVUSD employee benefit vendors, make this event possible. Benefit vendors include: Delta Dental of Arizona, United Healthcare (UHC), Aflac, Ellie Brockhurst & Associates and VSP;
*   If looking for more runs, you can go to and check out the Calendar page.
*   PV School District is celebrating 100 years of excellence this year!
*   For the first 30 years of the district, student’s had to walk to school…talk about your 5K!
*   Dr. Patrick Sweeny, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Support Secondary, holds the distinction of owning the very first bib issued in our first 5K event held on February 12, 2011.
*   The Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) will have three volunteers assisting with the event (Sheri Gilbert, Rebecca McGonigle and Darlene Kracht); and Delta Dental will providing Stacee Grosshans as an additional helper.

Congratulations to PVUSD for their efforts to keep their staff, students and the community focused on health, wellness and community spirit!

Chandler Unified School District Holds Health Fair

The Chandler Unified School District (CUSD) held its annual health fair on October 15, 2013.  Each year the event is well attended by hundreds of people looking to improve their health and wellness.  Vendors of benefits to CUSD are included as well as other health guests and screening staff.  Darlene Kracht of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) helped coordinate and plan the event with the staff of CUSD as part of their ongoing membership.

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“It’s great to see the big turn-out and the commitment on the part of the CUSD administration and employees to supporting each other in their health efforts,” Darlene Kracht stated.  “This year alone several people learned about conditions warranting a follow-up with their doctor.  The CUSD health plans emphasize wellness and early prevention and this is just one of many projects they pursue to that end.”


Cathy Giza and Dee Ostrowicki were key staff for the event for CUSD.  Congratulations to CUSD for making such concerted efforts to help their employees and their families!


Health Plays Prominent Role at AASBO Annual Conference

The Arizona Association of School Business Officials (AASBO) held its 60th Annual Conference – the Diamond Jubiliee Event – last weekend, July 17-20, 2013 at the Starr Pass in Tucson.  This year, the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) sponsored a run/walk event to promote health and wellness.  School employees often lead a sedentary life of lesson planning, paperwork, and educating children in a classroom setting.  Opportunities to involve them in organized wellness events can make a big impact on their health, and also set a good example for children who view them every day.

Valley Schools sponsored the free Healthy Heart Walk/Run that started bright and early at 6:45 a.m. Friday morning.   Around a hundred walkers showed up and made the mile trek into the beautiful hills of Tucson. Walkers were given T-shirts, Sunscreen and Water and staff were available to assist anyone who needed help.

As AASBO stateed in their brochure for the event:  Continuing in the tradition of past years, remember to plan to participate in this family- oriented AASBO event. Research indicates that a routine of moderate exercise will relieve stress, help with weight control and increase the likelihood of reaching those “golden years”.  This event involves an invigorating walk/jog (approximately one-mile) around the grounds of the JW Marriott Starr Pass complex.


Local Governments Win Healthcare Awards

Three major awards were given out by the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) to major employers in Arizona for their outstanding efforts in providing healthcare and other employee benefits to their employees.  During the same event, gifts were donated by employees at their expense for the Toys for Tots Drive:


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The three major awards earned were:

Outstanding Achievements in Wellness 2012BALSZ School District.  This award goes to employers who focus on wellness programs for their employees and show marked improvement in costs and positive life outcomes as a result.


Laurie Colter & Lisa Apley

Best Business Practices 2012The Town of Queen Creek .  This award is achieved by following all proscribed laws, accounting, financial practices and HIPAA requirements and having the most timely payments, documentation and fewest errors.


Deb Davis and Nina Waters

Lowest Per Member Per Month Costs – Tolleson Elementary School District (TESD) – This award goes to the employer with the lowest claims costs on a per member per month basis.  This is usually do to a well-structured plan with a focus on wellness initiatives.  Much of this particular award is due to the last few years of conversion by TESD over to health savings accounts plans which allow their employees and families to keep unused funds each year in their account.


Lisa Rafferty of Aon/Hewitt, Andrea Billings of VSEBT, and Darlene Kracht of VSEBT


Congratulations to these three employers for their outstanding achievements!

Chandler Unified School District Holds Successful Health Fair

Chandler Unified School District (CUSD) has a long history of providing communication and wellness programs for their staff and students to improve their health and lifestyle choices.  Focusing on proper nutrition, regular exercise, screenings and regular preventive care has helped them post some of the lowest costs for health care among all Arizona school districts.

The CUSD Wellness Expo was held on October 16, 2012 and was a resounding success.  Cathy Giza, Director of Food & Nutrition for CUSD, along with her wellness team designed a well-organized even.  In conjunction with their membership in the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) they were able to provide representatives from many different employee benefit organizations, perform screenings and provide instruction on wellness.  The event was held in the cafeteria of one of the CUSD campuses to prevent extra costs.


The following are some of the services and presenters at the CUSD Wellness Expo:

Cathy Giza, Director of Food Services, CUSD The following services and presenters are a partial list of those available at the CUSD Wellness Expo:The 

  • Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) – Providing information on the Wellstyles Program and PREP Program (both currently utilized by Chandler USD);
  • The Kidney Trust – Performed over 178 Screenings for early kidney disease detection;
  • United Healthcare (UHC) provided diabetes screening (A1-C testing) thru their DCPA program;
  • Delta Dental provided information on dental hygiene, maintenance and coverage;
  • VSP (Vision Service Plan) provided information on proper vision care and coverage;
  • Walgreens – Flu vaccines;
  • Abundant Health Chiropractic provided stress relief exercises and instruction on proper posture and alignment;
  • Cholesterol Checks;
  • Blood Pressure checks;
  • B-12 Shots;
  • Solis Women’s Health, provided informatin on breast cancer screenings;
  • Sarabelle the Tooth Fairy from Delta Dental Foundation appeared to stress good dental hygiene;
  • The Dairy Council;
  • Mobile On-site Mammography Unit (MOM);
  • Visiting Angels;
  • The Trust, which provides information on workers’ compensation issues;
  • Dental One provided information on dental coverage’
  • The Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS) was on hand to answer questions for those nearing the transition from the workforce to retirement;
  • Yummy Food provided nutritional advice on healthy eating;
  • Lifestyle Chiropractic provided information on proper back, spine and muscle care; and
  • The Office of Tobacco and Chronic Disease provided information on health risks from unhealthy lifestyles.

A computer lab was available for attendees to take the UHC Health Risk Assessment.   This handy and confidential tool provides people with the opportunity to identify areas for improvement in their health and living choices and to remind them of any screenings or tests that they are due to receive.

A variety of classes during the event included; food and nutrition, healthy relationships, reducing stress, Zumba, Yoga, financial planning, and retirement planning.  Keynote speakers included UHC’s Cheyenne Autumn, a wellness expert who spoke about “The Value of Laughter.”

Cheyenne Autumn


Dr. Michelle May presented “Mindful Eating”.   Dr. May is the author of “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle.‘  You can learn more at and download Chapter 1 of her book free at:

Dr. Michelle May

Chandler USD Food Service demonstrated how to build your own parfait yogurt bar, as well as provided wheat pizza, turkey burgers, a variety of soups, muffins, fruits, salad bar, coffee and water.  Their team of trained nutritionists showed which foods employees can eat that are satisfying, tasty, and yet healthier than regular choices that are often made.

Darlene Kracht, Account Manager at VSEBT, said, “Once again CUSD has demonstrated their commitment to the health and wellness of their employees.  This commitment has certainly paid dividends in lower health care costs over time, and in healthier, happier employees.”

Darlene Kracht, Account Manager, VSEBT



Balsz Elementary School District – Commitment to Employee Health and Fiscal Savings

Balsz Elementary School District has been on the cutting edge of improving employee health and wellness, not only to save money on health care costs to free up funding for more classroom funds, but to show their caring spirit for the dedicated professionals that work there.

Balsz recently held a Health & Wellness Fair with over 200 attendees and vendors.  The event took place on August 31, 2012 at Brunson Lee Elementary School. The folks that deserve the credit for this awesome event are as follows:

Devon Shehan, Assistant Principal at Orangedale School

Chris Canelake, Director of Human Resources

Josh Meibos, PE Teacher at Balsz Elementary School

Darren Hill, PE Teacher

Darien Schoolcraft, PE Teacher

Rob Boehnlein, PE Teacher

Kathleen Dubiac-Venerable, PE Teacher

Darlene Kracht, VSEBT Account Manager

UnitedHealthCare (UHC) provided the Body Mass Index (BMI) testing and Dura Scan machine which checks for skin cancer.  There were many screenings, including grip analysis and other tests.  The attendees also were shown work out techniques and yoga exercises for both break times and regular health routines.  Balsz also takes advantage of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits (VSEBT) group purchasing, which allows them to purchase benefits at the same low costs as the larger districts in the state.  VSEBT preferred providers attended (VSP, MetLife Voluntary Benefits, Delta Dental, Sun Life Financial, UHC and Solis Women’s Health and Mobile Onsite Mammography (MOM).

This and and many other efforts have led to Balsz Elementary School District to reduce the cost of employee benefits, save money for classrooms, and improve the health and morale of their employs.  During tough fiscal times, the folks at Balsz have dedicated themselves to putting in the extra mile, or the extra screenings and yoga, to make a difference!

Balsz employees learning yoga exercises.

UHC Representative shows grip test analysis results to attendees.