Local doctor honored for diabetes decathlon

Scott Swanson

Of The New Era

Sweet Home’s Dr. Tim Hindmarsh was honored Wednesday, Dec. 10, for his work in promoting and supporting educational outreach for diabetics.

Hindmarsh was presented with a 2008 Fitness Leadership Award by the Oregon Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Ken Toombs, mayor of Lebanon, nominated him last summer.

Hindmarsh has completed a personal decathlon each July since his 40th birthday in 2005, raising more than $9,000 in this year’s event alone to pay for diabetes education for east Linn County residents. The decathlon, which has taken on the moniker “Act Alive,” last year included snow and water skiing, snowboarding, windsailing, wakeboarding, motocross and cycling from Sweet Home to Lebanon, skydiving and a 5K run.

Over the last few years Hindmarsh has begun inviting members of the public to join him in “Act Alive” and has garnered media attention beyond Lebanon and Sweet Home. His campaign centers on getting people to exercise as a way to improve their health and enjoy life more fully.

“He’s a busy guy who found a way to contribute,” said Becky Pape, chief executive officer of Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital. She noted that Hindmarsh’s efforts have extended into the hospital staff, including herself.

“I was a person who couldn’t even run a lap three years ago,” Pape said. “Now I feel like when I run four miles I haven’t run far enough.” She added that a group of workers in her office started walking together and recently completed a full marathon.

“Dr. Hindmarsh, our cholesterol is better, we are fitter and we’re proud of the maladies we have now,” she said, listing “road rash” (from bicycle crashes), callouses and other athletic-related trophies.

Pape told a gathering of Lebanon and Sweet Home city and Samaritan officials at an official presentation of the award Wednesday that Hindmarsh’s efforts have also had some “unintended consequences” last summer.

“Some people in our office decided to get on a plane with Dr. Hindmarsh and jump,” she said.

Hindmarsh told the crowd he was “speechless, even though I’m the first to admit I was born with a performance gene.”

He said he was already planning next year’s decathlon, in which he wants to keep as many events as possible local so area residents can participate with him.

“I want to try to open up the running, walking and cycling events to more of the community,” he said.

He said the goal of his campaign has been simply to enjoy their lives more by being healthier, noting that Americans’ lifespans are decreasing and they are becoming more unhealthy as life has gotten more convenient and “we don’t do anything.”

He said his brother recently finished a video project that started 10 years ago when he interviewed their grandparents, who were in their 90s, who had immigrated to Canada from the Soviet Union, seeking religious freedom.

They moved onto the plains of Saskatchewan, where there were no trees, so three families lived in a sod dugout through winters in which temperatures fell to 20 degrees below zero.

“My brother asked them, ‘Didn’t you think of going back?’ and they answered, ‘No, we found religious freedom here,'” Hindmarsh said.

“We’ve made it in life. Now we’re starting to choke on it.

“I’ve always told patients that we might decrease your risk of heart attack or stroke and you might live longer, but that’s not the point.”