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Celebrating Our Heroes with Kevin Rigby, Master of Ceremonies

Published September 7, 2022

Show Notes

Each year, the Alliance hosts Heroes in Health, an event to honor individuals and companies making great strides to further research and innovation in aging. Kicking off our 29th annual celebration and here to share his excitement with us is master of ceremonies Kevin Rigby, a champion in the health space and a fierce advocate for aging Americans.

Episode Transcript

Sue Peschin:

Hi, everyone, and welcome to This Is Growing Old, the podcast all about the common human experience of aging. My name is Sue Peschin and I serve as President and CEO of the Alliance for Aging Research. Each year the Alliance hosts Heroes in Health, a nonpartisan celebration that honors federal government champions and other individuals who are leading the way to a healthier, more dignified aging experience for all. Our 29th annual celebration is back in person and takes place on Tuesday, September 20th, at the US Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.

Sue Peschin:

Now the secret sauce to our event is master of ceremonies, Kevin Rigby. Kevin is a champion in the health space and a fierce advocate for aging Americans. Kevin’s long career traverses the public and private sector, including serving as the Alliance’s fabulous vice chair. He currently provides strategic solutions to patient advocacy groups and organizations at Rigby Consulting. And this year he’s once again gracing our stage and we couldn’t be more excited. Kevin, thank you so much for joining us today.

Kevin Rigby:

Well, hi Sue, and it’s really my pleasure to be here and really, I can’t think of something more exciting than this upcoming annual dinner. This is going to be so special. And I know we’re going to talk a little bit about it, but I am pleased really to be a part of it.

Sue Peschin:

And now you’ve served as our master of ceremonies for nearly 10 years. I think this is your ninth year doing it. Can you tell us what keeps you coming back?

Kevin Rigby:

Absolute joy. Where else can you be when you stand next to and get to meet healthcare giants? These are legends in our industry that come up year after year. And it’s also rewarding to remain a part of the Alliance. I’m sure everybody on this video knows this, but the work you do, Sue and your team, is really outstanding and we should be so grateful for it. I have witnessed firsthand as being the co-chairman for many years of the Alliance, I have seen how you develop policy, you advocate for policy, you convene healthcare leaders, you’re prospective thinking about what are the healthcare issues tomorrow. And so just continuing to be a part of your Alliance really makes me feel so rewarded about making a difference. So thank you for allowing me to be a part of this dinner.

Sue Peschin:

Oh, well, thank you. That is very sweet of you and I loved having you as our vice chair and you are welcome back anytime, sir. And you are so right. It is a team effort. We also rely very much on the board for their guidance and direction. So I’m going to ask you next, what are some of your favorite Hero in Health memories?

Kevin Rigby:

Well, these are the kind of questions too that get me in trouble. I don’t want a text for having left out someone or not mentioned someone. So I’d rather just tell you that we’ve had so many powerful, inspirational leaders speak at this dinner, whether it be a Congressman, an academician, someone who’s a scientist or a leader in Congress. From beginning to end, we’ve had special speakers. We’ve had Dr. Fauci all the way to Martha Stewart. And also we’ve done some special things that really, for me, resonated that I thought I’d share with all of you. And it was surprise moments.

Kevin Rigby:

And so for example, Dr. Francis Collins was in there and we decided to sing It Had To Be You. You should have saw his face. It truly lit up. We had unique language in there that changed, that fit just for him. And seeing him smile really, I think, was rewarding to all of us that were in the audience. We also saw an 83-year-old woman dance. She was part of an item called Dance Exchange, which is a nonprofit located in Baltimore. But to see her move about and to show us that at any age you can enjoy life the way you want to do that, that was really inspirational. And finally, we saw the budding career of a new songwriter who was really creative, and I hope that she will sing for us again with a new song this time. And her name is Sue Peschin.

Sue Peschin:

Too funny. All right. Well, I’m not going to tell. So what are you looking forward to in this year’s celebration?

Kevin Rigby:

Well, for the first time, we’re all going to be together in person. I really miss that. A Zoom meeting and a Zoom event, they’re nice and certainly it’s great to do them. Nothing replaces the energy and the excitement of being together. The networking that we have with our leaders, people who work every day side by side for the industry, for better health, they’ll all be around us. And this year’s program, no surprise, is going to be the best one yet. And I really mean that. We’re going to have speakers such as Dr. Robert Califf, the FDA Commissioner providing an award to Dr. Janet Woodcock. We’re going to have my good friend, Gary Puckrein, President and CEO of the National Minority Quality Forum. And Gary’s done some incredible work, really data-driven work, that really has been shining a light on the premature death and preventable diseases in racial and ethnic minorities.

Kevin Rigby:

And we’re going to have a special guest, Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Dr. Ruth? Wait a… Dr. Ruth. We’ve all heard so much about her. Having her here, she is legendary from the eighties speaking about sexual health, and we’re going to learn some personal items about her. Just to give you a preview, do you know that she was a sniper? Did you also know that she survived the Holocaust? All these things really we’re going to learn about special people. So again, this year’s dinner is going to be the best yet with some incredible guests. So I urge and encourage everyone to make sure you can attend.

Sue Peschin:

Great. And so for those who have never attended with us, who are listening in today, what should they expect?

Kevin Rigby:

Well, let’s start off with the venue, the Institute for Peace. So impressive. It’s really the place that you’d want to have at a momentous event like this. So it’s wonderful. The wine, and I don’t want you to think less of me, but the wine is really good and it’s donated by the Wine Institute. And of course, we talked about the networking here. But I think that each and every year, there’s a surprise at the end that we can’t tell you about that I encourage you to be there. But I will tell you, from beginning to end, it’s an event you want to be at. And I’ve never seen anyone who’s ever left that wasn’t glad that they had attended.

Sue Peschin:

Ah, thank you, Kevin. So this year, our theme for Heroes in Health is generativity, joy and healthy aging. Can you tell us a bit about what that means to you?

Kevin Rigby:

Well, I think about that as having the opportunity and capability both mentally and physically to live your life to the fullest. And that means that there are no limits, whether you think about it physically, age-wise, mind-wise. This is really an opportunity that says that life has no bounds. Wouldn’t that be really exciting to think about that we don’t have to worry that at this age something stops or something that you’re passionate about that you won’t do. And so when I look forward to this kind of life, I think about whether it’s a walk with my grandson or maybe a Pickleball contest, something that you could do that you really want to do. So to me, it’s living life to the fullest.

Sue Peschin:

Very cool. I totally want to learn Pickleball, by the way. So now turning to our closing questions, which we like to ask everybody who comes on the show, when you were a kid, what did you imagine growing older would be like?

Kevin Rigby:

That’s a great question. First of all, when I was a kid, there was a group called The Beatles and they had a song called When I’m Sixty-Four, which seemed so old at that point. And if you listen to the song, you’re thinking, “When I get older,” and you’re like, “64,” well, you realize 64 is a young age. And I thought back then, it’s such a sedentary, quiet life. And you go to weddings. That’s where the old people sat in a corner. And now, go to a wedding. What do you see? Who’s the first one on the dance floor? I think the world has so much changed from what I thought it would be like when I was young. And I’m proud to say that when I’m 64, which in theory I may have passed, it is everything that I never would’ve dreamed about. The life is just ahead of us. And really it’s because of the science, it’s because of advocates like yourselves that each and every day want more energy put into so that we can live fuller and more complete, healthier lives.

Sue Peschin:

So what do you look forward to most about growing even older now?

Kevin Rigby:

More memories. Even every day to think that we’re creating memories for a lifetime. And it can be simple. And that is just getting up and having breakfast with your wife. Or it can be something special, attending an event. Or perhaps for me, it is thinking about my grandson, who is really the joy of our life, is four years old. Imagine you’re there for all his events and sharing in his life. So it is to me creating more memories.

Sue Peschin:

Yeah, that’s wonderful. I love it. And they get more precious the older we get. They become much more valuable. Well, thank you, Kevin, for chatting with us and thanks to our audience for listening to This Is Growing Old. Our 29th annual Heroes in Health celebration will be held in person and online on Tuesday, September 20th, at 6:00 PM. To learn more about the event or to register, please visit us at agingresearch.org. And thanks, everyone, for joining us today. Have a great day.

Kevin Rigby:

You as well. Bye-bye.

Sue Peschin:

Bye.

Join us on Tuesday, September 20th at the United States Institute of Peace for an evening of generativity and joy as we honor the the heroes who are advance the science of human aging. Click here to learn more or register for our Heroes in Health Celebration.