By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Tupelo gave a Healthiest Hometown high-five to one of its biggest cheerleaders Thursday.
The city of Tupelo unveiled signs celebrating its Healthiest Hometown award and honoring fitness and community advocate Hank Boerner, who died unexpectedly Dec. 6.
“He gave so much of his passion and life to make things happen,” said Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed Jr. as he unveiled the sign surrounded by members of the Healthy Tupelo Task Force and the Boerner family.
Twenty Healthiest Hometown signs will be placed around the city. The first one went up at Ballard Park, but they are also slated for the city entrances, Crosstown, the NMMC Community Walking Track and other parks.
“This is one small way to honor him,” said Don Lewis, director of Tupelo Parks and Recreation and a member of the task force. “This is just one of many to come.”
The city received the Healthiest Hometown Award from BlueCross BlueShield of Mississippi Foundation for its efforts to create a more active, healthy culture in Tupelo.
“It’s the culmination of really hard work by a lot of people,” Reed said.
The BlueCross BlueShield award looks closely at cities’ efforts across public and private spheres to create cultures that value health and wellness.
Tupelo’s winning effort was cited for efforts such as complete streets ordinances, partnerships with schools, parks and recreation opportunities and community programs like Health on a Shelf, which the task force developed. Along with the statewide recognition, winning the annual competition came with a $50,000 grant to allow the city to keep moving its efforts forward.
Boerner’s family, wife Helen Boerner, children Hunter and Hal, and longtime neighbor Emily Corban, said it was amazing to have him recognized, but that the effort to make Tupelo a healthier place was bigger than one person.
“We want to honor the rest of the task force as well as the mayor,” said Helen Boerner. “Hank would never had wanted to take all the credit.”