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Ligonier's Sheldon Kiser chosen for Excela billboard promotion

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Bill Pribisco | for the Ligonier Echo
Cassandra Kiser and her son, Sheldon, receive a replica of the billboard that will be posted along Route 30 from Jennifer Miele Excela Health vice president of marketing and communication. Sheldon Kiser, representing Ligonier Valley Middle School, was one of 10winners of an essay contest about healthy habits. This photo was taken on 5/3/2013 Bill Pribisco Ligonier Valley middle School Bill Pribisco for the Ligonier Echo

Ligonier Valley eighth-grader Sheldon Kiser is one of 10 Westmoreland County student winners of Excela Health's middle school healthy habits essay contest.

Kiser was recognized last week, by Jennifer Miele Excela Health vice president of marketing and communications, during a health education assembly at the middle school.

“Good health is habit forming, but healthy habits must be cultivated at an early age to ensure lasting results,” said Miele. “At a time when adolescents are exploring their independence and challenged to distance themselves from risky behaviors, we wanted to showcase healthy habits to inspire our community and encourage widespread and long-term participation in these positive lifestyle choices.”

Latrobe Area Hospital Charitable Foundation and the Westmoreland/Frick Hospital Foundation are helping to underwrite the cost of billboard production, while the vendors are also discounting monthly rental fees to show their support of healthy communities.

Miele said more than 1,000 essays were submitted for the contest.

Each winner will be spotlighted on billboards around the county during May and June.

Participating districts include Franklin Regional, Greater Latrobe, Greensburg Salem, Hempfield Area, Ligonier Valley, Jeannette, Mount Pleasant Area, Norwin and Penn-Trafford.

Kiser, 14, is the son of Shawn and Cassandra Kiser of Stahlstown. He has one brother, Ethan, 11, who also attends the middle school.

“I am amazed at this chance of a lifetime opportunity,” said Cassandra Kizer. “I couldn't be more proud of him.”

She said she always tries to offer a wide variety of foods for her family.

“Sheldon is actually eats the most healthy of all of our family members,” she said. “He makes conscientious choices about what he is going to eat.”

Inspired by the Pittsburgh Penguins and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, Kiser said in his essay that playing ice hockey is his healthy habit. He started playing dek hockey in elementary school then added ice hockey. He is a member of the Greensburg Salem junior varsity team and the Westmoreland Eagles travel team.

“This is pretty exciting for me,” said Kiser about winning the contest. “I have always played sports. Hockey has truly made me mentally tough.”

He said hockey has impacted him socially as well because he has made many new friends while playing hockey.

The billboard depicting an image of Kiser in hockey gear will be located on Route 30 across from Lazur Furniture in Unity Township. It will be in place by the end of May and will remain up for six weeks.

Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or