NASHVILLE (October 22, 2013) - Cigna-HealthSpring crowned Hazel Minnick as the 2013 Silver Star™ at the sixth annual competition held Sunday night. Ten Silver Stars finalists, two honorable mentions and other performers energized the audience at the Ryman Auditorium with a variety of musical genres and talents. Minnick, a ballroom dancer from Nashville, was awarded the coveted $5,000 first prize; Gene Finney, a harmonica player from Memphis, came in second, winning $2,000; and whistler Patricia Sonnier of Nashville received $500 as the third-place winner. The Spirit of Silver Stars Award went to Sam Cooper, lead singer of the band, Reckless Abandon.
Minnick is 68 and celebrating her 15
th year living with Alzheimer's disease. She discovered that the methodical movement of ballroom dance improved her memory, balance and mobility.
"Our 2013 Silver Star Hazel Minnick is a wonderful example of how the desire to stay active and healthy can make all the difference in a person's quality of life. She made the decision not to let Alzheimer's defeat her, and Cigna-HealthSpring is proud to have been able to support her on her quest to live life to the fullest," said Greg Miller, Cigna-HealthSpring chief operating officer of Tennessee. "We applaud Hazel and everyone who participated this year. Silver Stars proves that people can do what they love and realize their dreams no matter what their age."
Cigna-HealthSpring's Silver Stars shines a spotlight on outstanding 60-plus singers, musicians and dancers who perform before a live audience and celebrity judging panel. This year, celebrity judges Ed King, original Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist and co-writer of the hit song "Sweet Home Alabama;" Jim Glaser, country music artist famous for the hit song, "You're Gettin' to Me Again;" and Bruce Channel, singer and songwriter best known for his hit song, "Hey! Baby" determined the first-, second- and third-place winners. Also performing were Silver Stars 2012 winner Dianne Hill, a blues singer; 2008 Silver Stars winner Thomas Maupin, a buck dance champion; and two honorable mentions, Don Lee Bloomquist, accordionist, and Ilar Bonds, singer.
The finalists for the 2013 Silver Stars competition were as follows:
- Leah Bowes: Singer and piano/vox player
- Sam Cooper & Reckless Abandon: Soul singer/band
- Les Fradkin: Z-tar player
- Darlene Meyer: Tap dancer
- Hazel Minnick: Ballroom dancer
- Patricia Sonnier: Whistler
- Thelma Wilson: Blues singer
- Tommy Cravens: Soul singer
- Dare Estok & Swingtime Explosion Band: Big band singer/band
- Gene Finney: Harmonica player
Silver Stars, presented by Cigna-HealthSpring, is a talent competition for active adults 60 and older. Cigna-HealthSpring established Silver Stars in 2008 to reach the pool of untapped talent ignored by shows like
American Idol™ and
Nashville Star™, which exclusively focus on young contestants. Cigna-HealthSpring, a Medicare Advantage plan dedicated to helping older Americans get more from Medicare and more from life, designed the Silver Starscompetition to give local seniors the chance to share their talent from the legendary Ryman Auditorium stage in Music City.
Event host and producer Billy Block said, "Each year, I don't think we can top the caliber of entertainment and passion we see our finalists display onstage. But every time, I'm blown away by the fantastic talent. Cigna-HealthSpring's Silver Stars is truly a testament to what people can do when they simply refuse to let anything stand in the way of their dreams."
The 2013 Silver Stars competition is co-sponsored by Excelerated Care at St. Francis, Comfort Keepers, EMHC, Jason's Deli,
The Best Times, Creative Aging, YMCA, Harvest Construction, Human Arc, RJ Young and The Holland Insurance Group.
Photos and video from the final competition event are available on request. For more information, visit www.hssilverstars.com or call Graham Harrison at 615-234-6710.
Cigna-HealthSpring, a Cigna company (NYSE:CI), is one of the country's leading health plans focused on delivering care to the senior population, predominately through Medicare Advantage and other Medicare and Medicaid products. Cigna-HealthSpring serves over one million customers in locations across the country. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, Cigna-HealthSpring operates health plans in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Washington, D.C. Cigna-HealthSpring also offers a national stand-alone prescription drug plan. For more information, visit