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Athena Award goes to Reinisch

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Nancy Reinisch has ridden an emotional roller coaster over the last 12 months. A year ago today, the Glenwood Springs resident was brought low by news that she had breast cancer.On Wednesday, she was riding high after being named this year’s recipient of the Glenwood Springs Athena Award.The emotions evoked by the lofty honor were enough to take Reinisch’s breath away.”Anyone who has lived through cancer knows that no one does it alone. … I stand in front of you because of the power of each of you,” Reinisch told those attending the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association’s awards luncheon at the Hotel Colorado.Then she could say no more. She turned away from the lectern to sit down, fan herself and leave her husband, Dr. Paul Salmen, to finish reading her prepared remarks.”I think the whole thing was just overwhelming,” Reinisch said afterward of the feelings that left her light-headed.Reinisch isn’t one who gets knocked off her feet easily. Her strength and determination have played a role in many of her community contributions, most prominently in helping found and continuing to support the Advocate Safehouse Project.Even while battling cancer, this coach of the Roaring Fork Women’s Triathlon Group remained physically active, for example, running in last year’s Strawberry Shortcut race in June.And she took the effects of her cancer treatment in stride, as when she posed for a photo with her husband in a barbershop as they compared their bald heads – with hers still temporarily sporting hair around the sides to match Salmen’s.

When Reinisch got her diagnosis a year ago, “I said, I’m going to fight this and I’m going to live,” she told Wednesday’s luncheon crowd. Her attitude probably came as a surprise to no one.”Through the best and hardest of times, she has an indomitable spirit that inspires all who know her and know of her,” Linda Austin-Martin wrote in a letter nominating Reinisch for the Athena Award.The award program was begun in Michigan and honors people, primarily women, who stand out in their business profession, serve their community and help women reach their leadership potential. Reinisch works at Glenwood Medical Associates as a counselor. She co-founded the Valley Sexual Abuse Center. She has served on the Advocate Safehouse Project board for all of its 20 years, as a Roaring Fork Re-1 School District volunteer and member of the Garfield County Human Services Commission, and chair of the Mother’s Day Mile and Glenwood Charity Race Series. She also has been an ardent trails advocate.The recipient of the Garfield County Humanitarian of the Year award in 1994, Reinisch had a hunch she might get the Athena Award when siblings began showing up from out of town to attend. She managed to read a few of her written comments before handing over those duties to her husband.”Even to be honored with you is an honor for me,” she said, nodding to past Athena Award winners in attendance. “I think we’re all of the same mold. We do what we do for the community because it’s the right thing and because it makes us feel good.”Salmen, reading on for his wife, said she considers Glenwood “an easy place to love,” but continues to see room for improvement through community service, in areas such as affordable housing, day care and health care.She’ll also continue to remain an inspiration to women taking on fitness challenges such as the triathlon, and those suffering from breast cancer or dealing with other physical setbacks and limitations. One of them is Glenwood resident Nancy Stevens, a blind triathlete whom Reinisch coached for three years. Stevens was one of several women triathletes in attendance for Wednesday’s award ceremony who cheered Reinisch while fighting back tears of joy.”She’s an extremely giving person and I was just moved by the whole presentation,” Stevens said.Stevens said the last year has been tough on Reinisch, but added, “She’s a trooper. She handled it very well.”Reinisch’s cancer has resulted in something of a role reversal for Stevens. She has gone from being on the receiving end of Reinisch’s generosity and encouragement to being the one doing the giving and encouraging. Stevens fondly remembers competing in last year’s Strawberry Shortcut 10K and then running with Reinisch in the 5K to lift her spirits.

“It was nice to be support for her, cheering her on. She was so supportive of me over the years,” Stevens said.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.com



1994 – Shirley Schiesser 1995 – Donna Fell1996 – Tillie Fischer1997 – Jan Shugart1998 – Vicki Lee Green 1999 – Dr. Cynthia Heelan 2000 – Debbie Wilde 2001 – Martha Cochran 2002 – Mary Steinbrecher 2003 – Ginger Watts2004 – Sue Lagiglia-Corsentino 2005 – Marianne Ackerman 2006 – J. Robert Young Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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