20 February 2019
Leonard in neon yellow, checking his watch as he starts last year's 5K in Racine.
Humana Hero of the Month - Leonard Reimer
Leonard Reimer has been competing with the Wisconsin Senior Olympics for nearly 10 years. He's our Humana Hero this month because of his gritty, get-it-done attitude and love for competition. And, he's done it while he and his wife are homeless.
In 2012, Leonard and his wife lost their home to foreclosure due to being unable to afford their mortgage payments. Since then, they have been homeless, traveling in their 20 year old motor home and living on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) government land.
Their social security checks barely cover their costs of living. They tow a 2000 Saturn for their travel in local areas. Because the BLM land is remote, they also must figure in costs for gasoline. Once vehicle insurance, food, gas, propane for hot water have been paid for, there is little money for other expenses.
One wonders how this could have happened. A Korean War Navy veteran, Leonard’s career was one of self-employment where he delivered ice cream to neighborhoods in ice cream trucks. There was no retirement savings in his business.
Leonard is one of our most cheerful athletes, with a smile whenever we see him. Over the past few years, he comes to the games in his neon yellow workout clothes and you can’t miss him in the games. He has competed in Race Walk, 10K Road Race and other running events in Track. We did not know his situation until he contacted us looking for assistance for the National Senior Games.
Although Leonard could have participated in the National Senior Games over the past ten years, he has never been able to afford the registration fees along with the travel expenses. He and his wife live in Wisconsin on a friend’s property during good weather (the address listed is his friend's.) However, when winter hits, they take their motor home and travel to California where they won’t need to pay for heat and can live on BLM land. In addition, this past month, Leonard’s wife needed to have hip replacement surgery due to being unable to walk with unbearable pain. Because the games are being held in New Mexico, Leonard and his wife would be able to afford the travel to the games. He and his wife had never mentioned anything about how they lived.
Fortunately, the National Senior Games and their sponsor, Humana, had an opportunity - A Hand Up from Humana program that would provide some athletes with financial assistance. We helped Leonard apply for the funding and hope he will be chosen. They are still taking applications until February 28th. Click here to learn more.
Since October 1st, when Leonard started hoping he could find a way to the Albuquerque games, he has been running outside three or six miles every day of the week to train and to be competitive in his age category (80-84).
Congratulations, Leonard on qualifying for the National Senior Games and your fighting spirit to compete!
Humana Heroes seeks to honor an athlete who has made a significant contribution to the WSO through outstanding participation in our state games, the National Senior Games, or through volunteerism in our organization. Humana supports people in their daily endeavors to live a healthy life and is dedicated to creating innovative programs and partnerships that reflect our commitment.
Check out the 2019 Games Booklet for all the details!
Learn more about Bill Wambach, our Humana Hero of the Month!
A wonderful evening full of inspiring stories as the WSO inducts four new people to the WSO Hall of Fame.