GARY | Free health screenings and information about topics ranging from from having a healthy baby to caring for an elderly relative drew hundreds of area residents to the RailCats’ stadium Saturday for one of the largest community health fairs in the region.
Sponsored by Methodist Hospitals, the Community Fall Health Fair included 50 community partners as well as Methodist Hospitals services providing information, testing and one-on-one consultations. A Fitness Challenge walk/run began at 8 a.m. in conjunction with the start of the fair.
Thera and Ricky Dean of Gary stepped off to walk around the stadium concourse before getting free blood work done in the Diamond Center. The 60-something couple said they walk regularly to help get healthy and stay that way.
“If you don’t move you’re going to stiffen,” said Thera Dean, 63, a retired nurse from St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart. “A sister at church died. Now I monitor my health. Since July I walk five days a week and I changed my diet.”
The chance to run the approximately one-third mile concourse brought out 12-year-old Makayla Mehok, a member of the Hobart High School cross country team.
Her nine laps equaled more than 2.5 miles, while her 14-year-old cousin, Ashley Jansen of Hobart, completed two laps.
“I want to continue with cross-country all the way through high school,” Makayla said as she caught her breath after her last lap.
Her mother, Charity Tucker, and grandmother, Bev Mehok, kept her 20-month-old brother, Wyatt Tucker, busy as they waited, helping him chase an orange-shaped ball given out at one of the booths.
The health fair was very much a family affair for many.
Gary resident Bobbie Abernathy said she was proud to have her teenage granddaughter, Kaiya Wilson, attend.
“I want her to learn about taking care of herself,” said Abernathy.
“We’re here to support the health fair and to get myself healthy,” said the 60-year-old. “I’m planning to have my blood pressure checked and see a podiatrist.”
Joseph Williams, 64, of Merrillville had a free muscle tension test done by Rachel DeBoer of Kaufmann Chiropractic based in Merrillville and Crown Point.
“There was no pain, no sensation,” Williams said. “It showed I have tension in my neck. I feel it all the time. It’s probably from previous injuries.”
For Thomas Grant, 69, of Gary, the health fair provided a place to get blood tests performed and to talk to a doctor about prostate cancer.
“Cancer is the worst enemy,” said Grant.
Frank Osborn of Hammond brought his wife, Thuc, to the event to get blood tests for cholesterol and diabetes.
“She doesn’t have insurance,” he said. “I’m checking on health insurance.”
Some of the most popular booths provided information on health insurance enrollment opportunities including the Affordable Care Act and the insurance exchanges. This information was offered by Methodist Hospitals and other community partners.
“Methodist Hospitals has held many health fairs in our community in the past,” said Methodist Hospitals President and CEO Ian McFadden Ian McFadden during his welcome.
“We are proud to have so many of our community partners here today to help us increase awareness about all the services and resources available to all who reside in Northwest Indiana.”