Congratulations to the contest winners! Read their winning stories below

Stories are how humans share and create wisdom. Stories are memorable. Stories draw on the heart as well as the mind. Stories motivate us to tackle tough problems and try to change the world.

The conventional story regarding care of older adults is that it is a waste of time, hard, sad, underpaid, under (or un) appreciated. We asked you for counter-stories, for heroic stories that convey how a person with geriatric expertise (in any profession and discipline) can save the day when those without couldn't get the job done.

University of Connecticut Assistant Clinical Professor, Millicent MalcolmOur Heroes of Geriatric Care Story Contest closed on April 15th and we received 92 entries, mostly in written format with a few bravely submitted videos.  We had several nominations for "Geriatric Heroes" (or "Goddesses," as seen right) -- physicians, nurses, and social workers, as well as music and art therapists, home health aides, and family members who provide amazing care to older adults, in an all-too-often fragmented and uncoordinated health care system.

It was difficult to choose, but our criteria were clear.  We looked for stories featuring health care professionals with specific geriatrics expertise or training, exemplification of excellent geriatric care, and a compelling, well-constructed story that captured our imaginations and hearts.

We are very, very pleased to announce the winners of the contest below.  Read their stories, along with the other finalists’ entries. And read more about what we learned from the contest on Health AGEnda. Perhaps you will find the outlines of a story that can be useful in your next presentation. Perhaps they will encourage you to think about the stories that bring the core messages about your work fully to life. 

Heroes of Geriatric Care Story Contest Winners

  First Prize Winner ($3,000):
  “Geriatrics Saved his Life!
  by William Dale

Erica Riley Geriatrics HeroWilliam’s story is a tribute to geriatric care hero, Erica Riley, LPN, (pictured right) a “secret weapon” who helps an older, homeless cancer patient survive a Windy City winter against the odds. Read the story here

About William Dale:
William Dale, MD, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Medicine and the Section Chief of Geriatrics & Palliative Medicine at the University of Chicago, with a secondary appointment in Hematology/Oncology.  He is board-certified in internal medicine, geriatrics, and palliative medicine with a PhD in health policy. A Beeson Scholar (2005), he serves as the Co-Director of the John A Hartford Center of Excellence in Geriatrics at Chicago.  Dr. Dale has devoted his career to the care of older adults, especially those with a cancer diagnosis.  In 2006, he established, and now directs the Specialized Oncology Care & Research in the Elderly (SOCARE) Clinic at the University of Chicago.  

  Second Prize Winner ($1,000):
  “Where the Truth Lies
  by Elizabeth Parker Garcia


This story is a beautiful recognition of the profound lessons the author has learned from the expert, geriatric nurses who are making the difference in the care of her 82-year-old father and others at the skilled nursing facility where he lives.  Her examples vividly describe how geriatrics skill intersects with improvisation to create high quality dementia care. Read the full story here

About Elizabeth Parker Garcia:
Elizabeth Parker Garcia is a lecturer for the Department of Communication at the University of Texas- Pan American. When she is not teaching, she enjoys writing for children. Elizabeth's father was 52 years old when she was born, so she is a member of the "sandwich generation" helping an aging parent while also raising her own small child (pictured right).

  Third Prize Winner ($500):
  “Man’s Best Friend
  by Chandelle Martel


Chandelle’s story is a shaggy dog tale (of the best kind) describing a social worker’s heartwarming and extraordinary efforts to help an 88-year-old man return home from skilled rehab and live independently with his beloved Yorkshire Terrier by his side (or, to be more precise, on his lap - see photo below). Read the full story here.

About Chandelle Martel:
Chandelle Martell is a certified geriatric care manager at Bethesda Health Group where she coordinates care and resources for the company’s senior living residents at times of medical transition and provides comprehensive assessments, counseling and resource connections for residents and their families that support senior independence. She lectures in the community, sits on several boards and always tries to promote care management as a way to empower seniors with options and provide quality care. Chandelle received her MSW from Washington University in St. Louis, where she was part of the Hartford-sponsored social work practicum program, called the Hartford GENIUS Program. 

Honorable Mention
To Be A Gero Hero? A Story of Finding SENSE and Simple Triumph
by Mary Brodland

A detective tale of geriatrics expertise that helps an older woman regain her desire to eat.  Mary participated in the Hartford Partnership Program for Aging Education at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work. Read the full story here.

Congratulations to All Story Contest Finalists:

Untitled Video
by Alice Bingert

by Vicki Bauer

by Jean Cannon

"Geriatric Hero: Achieving Independence"
by Aaron Cobb, RN

"Exceeding All Expectations"
by Patricia Cox, RN, BSN on b/o Dominican Sisters Home Health Agency of Denver

"So Call Me, Maybe: Easing Social Isolation and Depression Through Telephone Psychoeducation, Screening, Referral and Follow Up"
by Lisa Furst, LMSW, MPH

"Amanda Small"
by Carmy Jerome

"Is there a doctor in the house?"
by Susan C. Lynch

by Sally M. Lyne on b/o Jewish Family Services of Milwaukee

"One Moment at a Time"
by Maria Mursch

"Geriatric Care Management: A Story"
by Sue Murphy

"A Geriatrician's Gifts"
by Joseph Ouslander

by Hiren R. Patel, MD

"Staying Connected"
by Tziona Regev, LCSW

"Anna's Story"
by Gail Rothrock, ACSW, LCSW, NCG on b/o Families First Indiana, Inc.

Video: "New Models of Care/Non-Institutional Alternatives to Long-Term Care"
by Kenneth Shay, DDS, MS on b/o Veterans Administration

"Mrs. D CAPABLE Story"
by Sarah L. Szanton, PhD, CRNP on b/o CAPABLE

by Dana Territo

by Raymond Vickers, MD




  • Stories are due by April 15, 2013.
  • Stories must be true and either made anonymous consistent with the ethics of the health professions or should be accompanied by signed release/permission documents from patients, as needed.
  • Stories should have beginnings, middles, and ends. Stories should have drama from complications and tribulations. Stories should be rich in specifics and reasonably detailed, but not assume technical knowledge. Stories should maintain the audience's attention and be of reasonable length.
  • Modesty is not a virtue—the ideal story is not afraid to laud the special contribution of the geriatric expert (nor to call out the failings of usual care).
  • Stories can be delivered in written, audio, or video format. Illustrations, graphics, and visual images in written submissions are encouraged, but not required. While there are no maximum length limitations, submissions will be judged in part on composition and ability to maintain audience attention.
  • Stories should be submitted electronically as file attachments or links to downloadable files to stories@jhartfound.org with the words "Gero Hero Story Contest" in the subject line.
  • Multiple submissions by an individual are not allowed.

Contest Prizes:

  • First prize: $3,000
  • Second prize: $1,000
  • Third prize: $500


  • Contest is open to individuals over the age of 18 with a valid US taxpayer identification number (i.e., Social Security Number, Employer Identification Number, or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number), including Hartford Foundation grantees and non-grantees, geriatric health care professionals, and geriatric services recipients, their families, friends, and caregivers.
  • Employees of the John A. Hartford Foundation and SCP are not eligible.
  • The competition is subject to all applicable federal laws and regulations. If required by law, state and/or federal taxes may be withheld from awards made. In addition, winners are responsible for reporting and paying any income taxes or other taxes that may apply to accepting awards.
  • Participation constitutes contestant's full and unconditional agreement to these Official Rules and administrative decisions, which are final and binding in all matters related to the competition.
  • Eligibility for an award is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements set forth herein.

Judges and Winners Selection:

  • Submissions will be judged by a panel selected by the John A. Hartford Foundation at its sole discretion.
  • The panel will judge the submissions on composition, overall impact, and the incorporation of principles of exemplary geriatric care.
  • The John A. Hartford Foundation reserves the right to reject any entries and to decline to award any or all prizes if the entries are not found to be worthy.


  • Except where prohibited, participation in the competition constitutes the winners' consent to the contest's sponsors and its agents' use of the winners' names, likenesses, photographs, voices, opinions, and/or hometown information for promotional purposes in any media worldwide, without further payment or consideration.

Intellectual Property Rights:

  • Contestants will retain all rights to any stories they submit, including ownership if applicable. Contestants shall grant the John A. Hartford Foundation royalty-free, non-exclusive, irrevocable rights, in perpetuity to use submitted stories to advance the mission of the Foundation, including, but not limited to, publication on the Hartford Foundation Health AGEnda blog, the Hartford Foundation website, and in communications and/or other publications.

Disclaimer and Liability:

  • Sponsor assumes no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, or delay in operation or transmission; communications line failure; theft or destruction of or unauthorized access to Contest entries; or alteration of entries or entry forms. Sponsor is not responsible for any problems with or technical malfunction of any telephone network or lines, computer online systems, servers or providers, computer equipment, software, failure of any email entry to be received on account of technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website, human errors of any kind, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to entrants' or any other persons' computers related to or resulting from participation, uploading or downloading of any materials related to in this Contest.
  • Use of Contest site is at user's own risk. Sponsor is not responsible for any personal injury or property damage or losses of any kind which may be sustained to user's or any other person's computer equipment resulting from participation in the Contest, use of the Contest site or the downloading of any information from the Contest site.
  • The contestant shall be liable for, and shall indemnify and hold harmless the John A. Hartford Foundation against all actions or claims for loss of or damage for intellectual property infringement, any type of defamation, right of privacy, or personal injury claim, or to property of the John A. Hartford Foundation computer systems or to those of the users of the applications resulting from the fault, negligence, or wrongful act or omission of the contestant.

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