Employee Spotlight: Supporting Idaho’s seniors through service
Main photo: Ken Azbill, pictured center, with two 2019 Idaho Senior Games competitors
Regence employee Ken Azbill is passionate about supporting Idaho’s seniors. In his role as a Medicare sales executive, Ken helps connect individuals to Regence Medicare Advantage plans that meet their unique needs. Outside the office, he extends his service to seniors through a long-held position on the board of the Idaho Senior Games, an organization that promotes health and fitness for aging adults.
We spoke with Ken to learn more about his board service and passion for helping seniors.
Tell us more about the Idaho Senior Games.
The Senior Games is a national organization that provides opportunities for aging individuals to lead healthy, active lives. In addition to an annual competition in August, our local chapter – the Idaho Senior Games – encourages exercise of the body and mind year-round for those in the Treasure Valley area.
The Games are made up of a variety of Olympic-style qualifying events and we see folks from different backgrounds and age groups compete each year. The youngest competitors are in their 50’s, and there is no maximum age! Plenty of folks in their 80’s compete, and we have several athletes that are over 100 years young. Many participants are long-time fans of the games, who compete here in Idaho and regularly represent our state in the National Senior Games.
I’m proud to say that the 2019 Idaho Senior Games was a success! In August, nearly 800 senior athletes participated in 18 different sports, including archery, basketball, pickleball, power walking, swimming and even a Triathlon.
How did you get involved with the Idaho Senior Games and its board?
When I joined Regence BlueShield of Idaho in 1997, I took on a role that directly supported seniors and their health care experiences. I was looking for an opportunity to serve and came across the Idaho Senior Games. I have a coaching background, so joining the board was a perfect fit that melded my interests and experience. I’ve been serving on the board since 2000, marking nearly 20 years dedicated to helping Idaho’s seniors stay active with the support of an incredible organization.
Throughout the year, our board is responsible for raising funds and awareness. Financial support from community partners, such as Regence, are critical to ensuring the Games – our biggest event of the year – can be put on.
We also regularly keep in touch with former participants and attendees, and participate in health fairs throughout the year, sharing information on topics like the importance of stretching and eating properly.
What has kept you serving all these years? How have you seen this organization positively impact the community?
I started serving on the board in my 40’s. Each year, when I see the athletes compete, I’m inspired by their enthusiasm, vivaciousness and commitment. These seniors don’t sit back – they make it happen. I’ve noticed that when retirees discover the Senior Games, they often find their purpose; It gives them a new look at retirement, as they discover that physical activity and competitiveness isn’t limited because of age.
Since I began my board service, we’ve seen the Games triple in size, as we gain notoriety within the community. It’s quickly becoming a signature event.
Through board volunteering, I get to meet new people and, in many cases, help them connect more deeply within our community. One success story comes to mind. I met an individual who was having trouble finding the motivation to maintain an active lifestyle, which was a necessary step to overcome a major health condition. We got him plugged in to our pickleball tournament. Since then, he’s come back year after year, having discovered a sport that he enjoys and that keeps him active, while feeling the support of his community.
It’s incredible to see the community come out for the Senior Games in August. Hundreds of friends and generations of family members – kids, grandkids – cheer on our competitors to victory. All of this keeps me coming back year after year.
How have you felt supported to continue your board service?
I’m grateful that Regence supports my board service, the Senior Games, and our senior community in Idaho. Through my job, I have the opportunity to help people inside and outside the office, which makes me proud. And through Regence’s support of the Senior Games, we’re promoting the good health of these same individuals through physical activity.
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