The Village at Orchard Ridge Announces Former NASA Director of Life Sciences, Dr. Joan Vernikos, as Keynote Speaker for Stellar 7 Over 70 Awards

Awards ceremony and keynote address will be held October 14 at the historic George Washington Hotel in Winchester, Virginia

In 2019, The Village at Orchard Ridge–A National Lutheran Community introduced the Stellar 7 Over 70 Awards as a way to honor and celebrate the achievements of older adults throughout Winchester, Frederick County and Clarke County, Virginia. The awards are also a way for The Village at Orchard Ridge to combat ageism and ageist stereotypes. This is the second annual Stellar 7 Over 70 Award event since the awards were introduced by The Village at Orchard Ridge in 2019. Plans to continue the awards into 2020 were setback due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The final results of the 2021 Stellar 7 Over 70 Awards will be announced at a ticketed luncheon on October 14 at the historic George Washington Hotel in Winchester.

As a part of the ceremony, The Village at Orchard Ridge has secured renowned guest speaker, Dr. Joan Vernikos. Dr. Vernikos is a well-known and passionate advocate for healthy aging. She spent her career with NASA, as both a researcher and administrator, and until her retirement, was NASA’s Director of Life Sciences. While at NASA, she played an instrumental role in the return to space of Astronaut John Glenn at the age of 77.

Dr. Vernikos is the author of “Sitting Kills, Moving Heals: How Everyday Movement will Prevent Pain, Illness and Early Death – and Exercise Alone Won’t.” This book shows how modern sedentary lifestyles contribute to poor health, obesity and diabetes, and how health can be dramatically improved with continuous low intensity
movement that challenges the force of gravity.

Initially recruited by a nascent NASA for her stress expertise, Dr. Vernikos later pioneered research on how living in a micro-gravity environment adversely affected the health of astronauts. In the 1970s she worked with scientists in the Soviet space program in a rare sharing of efforts between the then-enemies, and thereafter led the development of a “bed-rest” facility to mimic the effects of micro-gravity on test subjects.

Initially recruited by a nascent NASA for her stress expertise, Dr. Vernikos later pioneered research on how living in a micro-gravity environment adversely affected the health of astronauts. In the 1970s she worked with scientists in the Soviet space program in a rare sharing of efforts between the then-enemies, and thereafter led the development of a “bed-rest” facility to mimic the effects of micro-gravity on test subjects.

Event Chair Rebecca Lipscomb stated, “When we started looking for a keynote speaker, Dr. Vernikos, or Dr. Joan as is called by those who know her, was a natural fit. Her passion for aging well and with purpose directly aligns with The Village at Orchard Ridge’s philosophy on aging and with the purpose of the Stellar 7 Over 70 Awards.” Lipscomb continued, “Dr. Joan is also very engaging and funny. She is living out what it means to age well, and we know that her message will resonate strongly with older adults living inspired, impactful lives.”

Tickets for The Village at Orchard Ridge’s Stellar 7 Over 70 Awards can be purchased online at https://www.thevillageatorchardridge.org/stellar7over70.

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