By Patricia Beech –
What does it take to be a hero?
Members of the Adams County Health and Wellness Coalition believe they know what it takes.
“To be good, or to be great, or to be a hero, you have to have certain qualities,” said Coalition member, Holly Johnson. “Some people are born with those qualities and some people develop them – Leeann Puckett was born with them.”
Johnson and her fellow Coalition members agree on that score. In countless small ways, every day, they say Puckett, who serves as Chair for the Health and Wellness Coalition, gives her time, her energy, and her spirit to make life better for others.
“Her passion for helping people is boundless, she just a born giver, and she takes volunteerism to a whole different level,” said Coalition Coordinator Debbie Ryan. “She has done amazing work in Adams County, but she’s a very humble person who doesn’t like to be in the spotlight, she’d rather be spotlighting someone else.”
Where does that giving spirit come from?
“I’ve thought about that question,” Puckett said, pausing as unexpected tears fill her eye. “Being raised by a single mom and being there with my sisters, I came to understand it took a community to raise me. I had lots of teachers and coaches that believed in me and they all taught me by example the importance of giving.”
Despite her reticence, Puckett found herself in the spotlight on Thursday, Aug. 18 when the American Red Cross presented her with their 2016 Hero Award for her volunteer work in Adams County. She was one of 11 award recipients, and is the first person from Adams County to receive the award. Additionally, she received commendations from Representative Terry Johnson, Congressman Brad Wenstrup, State Senator Joe Uecker, and Governor John Kasich.
In addition to serving as Chairperson of the Adams County Health and Wellness Coalition, Puckett is one of two charter members of the ACHWC who recruited a group of local business men and women under the shared goal of improving the health and well-being of children and families in Adams County through increased physical activities and improved nutrition. In addition, she works full-time as the Administrative Assistant to the Manager of General Electric – Peebles Test Operation.
Under her guidance and leadership, grant money was procured to build two fitness trails, a walk path, a skateboard park, a Safe Routes to School sidewalk, and to hold numerous grocery store tours to highlight healthy nutrition.
“Our coalition has such a strong working relationship I can’t take credit for any one project because we all work together as a team,” said Puckett. “Whenever we come up with an idea we pull everybody together. We understand that knowing your neighbor, knowing the people in your community, understanding their strengths and weaknesses makes us a stronger more effective team.”
Her belief in the power of community to positively affect the lives of families and children motivates her choice to go above and beyond the expected.
“I think the people of Adams County want a healthier tomorrow. I think it’s important to them and I think it’s important to our future economic growth,” said Puckett. “If we want our children to stay in the county and develop their families here, we need to provide them with a healthier environment.”
If she has her way about it, that “healthier tomorrow” will be the “norm” rather than the “exception to the rule” for Adams County.
“She wants to constantly give back to the point that she becomes selfless, which she is,” said Johnson, “ Adams County is very blessed to have someone like her, she is a champion for the county and for everyone who lives in the county. She is an all around good person trying to do good things. When this award came about you didn’t have to vet who should receive it, no one else even came to mind”
Ryan agreed. “She makes us all be better and do better.
Puckett is a graduate of West Union High School and Morehead State University where she earned a BA in Health Promotion and a minor in Speech Communication. She lives in the Peebles area with her husband Richard and daughter Allison.