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Big turnout expected at annual Life Connections

WILLMAR -- Organizers are looking forward to a big turnout Friday for the 11th annual Life Connections senior event at the Willmar Civic Center.

The event is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is hosted by the West Central Tribune.

About 1,200 are expected to attend, said Kari Gislason, marketing director at the West Central Tribune.

"People look forward to it. It has become a very social event," she said. "There's a great opportunity to learn some new things and take a piece home with them."

Highlights this year include a pancake and sausage breakfast, dancing to live music, and seminars on topics ranging from identity theft to cooking for one or two.

The winner of the 2010 outstanding senior award also will be announced, Gislason said.

Life Connections is designed for older adults to help provide them with information and resources to live well. The doors open at 8 a.m. for a free breakfast that will be served until 9 a.m. in the food court.

Morning events include a seminar at 9 a.m. on successful aging, presented by Debbie Hanka, senior wellness coordinator with UCare, a presentation at 9:15 p.m. by Marilee Dorn, crime prevention officer with the Willmar Police Department, on identity theft and how to prevent it, and an 11:15 a.m. seminar on cremation, presented by the Peterson Brothers Funeral Home and Cremation Service.

The Southwest Initiative Foundation also will host a session at 11 a.m. on "Encore: Entrepreneurship," highlighting the resources it offers to help older would-be entrepreneurs launch a viable new business. During the afternoon, a seminar on cooking healthy meals will be offered at 1 p.m. by Tamara Hein, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with Affiliated Community Medical Centers. Hein will include a weekly meal plan with recipes in her presentation.

The day also contains a full social and entertainment schedule, with music, bingo, dancing, drawings for prizes, and an afternoon coffee-and-pie festival.

More than 70 exhibitors are signed up to be at the Civic Center for the day.

"The exhibitors have so much information to offer and provide," Gislason said. "Sometimes people don't even know how much is out there."

Advance tickets are $4 and are available at Cash Wise Foods, Cub Foods, the Willmar Community Center, Cornerstone Coffee and the West Central Tribune. Tickets are $5 at the door.

Major sponsors of Life Connections are the Southwest Initiative Foundation and UCare. Co-sponsors are Cash Wise Foods and Cub Foods.

Hennen's Furniture and Thrifty White Pharmacy are prize sponsors, and Pioneer Public TV is an entertainment sponsor.

For more information, call 235-1150 or visit www.wctrib. com.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

(320) 235-1150