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Chadron nurse awarded Leading Light Award at Safety and Wellness Conference

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Sleep problems are a global epidemic that threatens the health of up to 45% of the world’s population. But it’s easy to recover from that sleep deficit, right, especially if you’re young? Unfortunately, a study has revealed that may not be the case, even for younger people.

Diana Lecher, a nurse and wellness coordinator at Chadron Community Hospital, was named the recipient of the Leading Light Award Thursday at the 2022 Panhandle Safety and Wellness Conference.

The award is given to a local leader in the mental or physical health fields who goes above and beyond in their duties. It was first awarded in 2019 to honor a Panhandle Worksite Wellness Council advisory committee member who died from cancer.

This is the second time someone from Chadron Community Hospital has won it.

Chadron nurse awarded Leading Light Award at Safety and Wellness Conference

Diana Lecher (second from right) won this year’s Leading Light Award for her positive leadership impact at Chadron Community Hospital. Her family (left to right: son-in-law Ryan Wasson, daughter Jessica Wasson, husband Mike Lecher) came to support her.

“(Lecher) truly cares for our colleagues and goes out of her way to provide for them. Her caring does not stop with Chadron Community Hospital … in her professional and personal life, Diana is a leading light,” Nicole Berosek, an organizational wellness coordinator with the Panhandle Public Health District (PPHD), said.

Lecher received an engraved award in recognition of her achievement. Colleagues, friends and family praised her dedication in a video compilation; a few family members even made the trip from Chadron to congratulate her in person.

Chadron nurse awarded Leading Light Award at Safety and Wellness Conference

Keynote speaker Justine Froelker taught attendees at the 2022 Panhandle Safety and Wellness Conference about how to be resilient, build trust and manage emotions in the workplace.

“I felt … just very grateful. I’m humbled. They said a lot of nice things … I just didn’t think it would make me feel this way,” Lecher said.

Lecher’s award was just one part of a busy day at the conference. Close to 70 attendees packed into the Gering Civic Center to hear from a variety of presenters.

Every year, the Wellness Council and PPHD bring in employers from various local businesses to learn how to build a healthier workforce.

Chadron nurse awarded Leading Light Award at Safety and Wellness Conference

Close to 70 people attended this year’s Panhandle Safety and Wellness Conference, where they learned a variety of ways to make themselves and their workforces healthier.

“This year we actually have quite a few registered, more than previous years. With COVID, it was a little bit challenging in the past but this year’s, we’re hopefully able to have a few more,” Berosek said. “We really just want them to get energized again, be willing to get into groups, interact and also just (learn) to move past COVID and into this future that we have.”

Organizations with leadership or employees present included Panhandle Coop, Box Butte General Hospital, Platte Valley Bank and the Scotts Bluff County Health Department.

Chadron nurse awarded Leading Light Award at Safety and Wellness Conference

The Panhandle Humane Society brought along five puppies during the lunch break at this year’s Safety and Wellness Conference. Guests held and pet them until the presentations resumed.

In total, attendees participated in six presentations. These ranged from learning about building trust, to healthy meal tips, to safe driving practices.

This year’s keynote speaker was Justine Froelker, a corporate trainer based in St. Louis. Froelker has written nine books and hosted two TEDx talks.

“I work with different corporations in all different kinds of industries and all different sizes of companies to help them create more courageous cultures: how to have tough conversations, practice empathy, hold people accountable,” she said.

Froelker taught the attendees to feel connected, build empathy with others, and to deal with vulnerability.

“This work is truly about what it is like to love and live and lead with courage,” she said. “Especially today we’ll talk about the resilience skills of how we can stop reacting to our emotions and respond to our lives, and live in a healthier way.”

Organizers also honored Kendra Dean, a retiring member of the Wellness Council, as well as its other hardworking members toward the end of the conference.


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Christopher Borro is a reporter at the Star-Herald. He can be reached by email at

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