The Governor’s Fitness Awards

Presented by the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports and the Michigan Fitness Foundation, the Governor’s Fitness Awards (GFA) recognize communities, organizations, and individuals who inspire healthy choices. Nominated by Michiganders, the GFA finalists are then selected by a panel of judges and announced each spring.

This year, GFA finalists will be recognized on April 25, 2019, at the morning legislative reception at the Michigan State Capitol, then at the evening gala at MGM Grand Detroit, where the winners in each category will be revealed.

The gala is open to all, and tickets are available by clicking the button below.

The Event

  • 5:30 pm

  • April 25, 2019

  • MGM Grand Detroit
    1777 3rd Ave
    Detroit, MI 48226

The Awards

Vern Seefeldt Lifetime Achievement Award

Appointed as the first chairman of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness Health and Sports in 1992 by Governor Engler, Dr. Seefeldt’ s avoidance of personal aggrandizement while working to promote the Council’s service goals set the standard for the professionalism which has become the hallmark of the Council. Past recipients of this prestigious award include Al Kaline, Mike Ilitch, Gordie Howe, and John Dingell. This award is presented to the person that dedicates their life to serving, volunteering, honoring, partnering, and inspiring others through their profession.  

The 2019 Vern Seefeldt Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Dale Hughes for his contributions to the sport of cycling.

Accepting the Challenge Award

Charles T. Kuntzleman’s impact on the arena of physical activity is known around the world. He has dedicated his life to teaching and advocating for quality physical education for all students, regardless of ability. His career includes Professor of Kinesiology at University of Michigan, National Program Director for the YMCA, and first chair of the Michigan Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports and the Michigan Fitness Foundation and celebrated author. Named after his book “They Accepted the Challenge” that recounts the stories of people who used exercise to prevail over a range of debilitations, the Charles T. Kuntzleman Accepting the Challenge award recognizes those who continue to overcome extraordinary challenges through exercise, discipline, and positivity – and who, in turn, serve as a role model for others. The 2019 finalists are:

  • Johnny and Jeff Agar, Rockford
  • Gregory Barnier, Livonia
  • Jackson Rahrig, Haslett
Active Community Award

Imagine a community where people can walk or bike to work, to school, or to run errands. A place where families play together in parks and greenspaces and where neighbors wave to neighbors with a sense of connectedness and community pride. The Active Community Award is given to a community that creates this kind of vibrant, healthy environment. The 2019 finalists are:

  • City of Huntington Woods
  • City of Mackinac Island
  • Waterford Charter Township
Active Senior Award

The Active Senior award recognizes our most seasoned citizens, those who put fitness front and center in their lives, while encouraging others to join them. The 2019 finalists are:

  • Cynthia Erickson, Lansing
  • Harrison Hensley, Pickney
  • Michael Lemerise, Utica
Conquering Obesity Award

Individuals recognized in this category have made the tough decision to lead a healthier life in order to overcome a health issue. They have dedicated themselves to finding balance in nutrition and physical activity in their daily lives. They lead by example, encourage others to make positive changes to improve their health, and continue to honor their own commitment on a daily basis. The 2019 finalists are:

  • Douglas Church, East Lansing
  • Debra Lawrence, Bay City
  • Carlos Orosco, Zilwaukee
Director’s Champion for Health Award

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director’s Champion for Health award acts to ignite and support positive community change, specifically encouraging physical activity and healthy eating across the lifespan. This champion works to develop programs, processes, messaging, and infrastructure in their community and shows how they have affected the lives and health outcomes in Michigan’s most vulnerable populations. The 2019 finalists are:

  • Lila Lazarus, Orchard Lake
  • Kathy O’Mara, Brooklyn
  • Mary Patay, Mackinac Island
Extraordinary Event or Organization Award

This award honors events and organizations who provide opportunities for Michiganders of all ages and skill levels to try different forms of activity, develop physical fitness skills, and gain a better understanding of health in a safe and welcoming environment. This honoree offers fun, safe, and innovative physical activity events or programs with no barriers for participation, creating a positive environment for all to pursue a physically active life. The 2019 finalists are:

  • Battle Creek Community Foundation – Operation Fit, Battle Creek
  • League of Michigan Bicyclists, Lansing
  • St. Clair County 4H & Youth Fair – Eat Your Ag, Goodells
Healthy Workplace Award

Every year, Michigan work sites large and small take that extra step, spend the extra dollars, to develop innovative concepts which help create a healthier workplace — and consequently helps their employees to be fit, healthy, and more productive. To honor such efforts, the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports and the Michigan Fitness Foundation bestow the Healthy Workplace Award on organizations with outstanding programs that promote healthy living and create best practices for others throughout Michigan to emulate. The 2019 finalists are:


  • Edgewater Bank, St. Joseph
  • RPT Realty, Farmington Hills
  • Stevens Van Lines, Saginaw


  • Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU), East Lansing
  • WK Kellogg Foundation, Battle Creek
  • WW Group, Farmington Hills

Very Large

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Detroit
  • Grand Valley State University, Allendale
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

For more information on each of our finalists, please check out our Facebook page.