PINEHURST – Sandy Ritter had never been inside the FirstHealth Center for Health & Fitness-Pinehurst until she interviewed for a job there in 1998.
At the time, she saw the position as a career move, a step up the FirstHealth ladder from her job as a scheduling secretary at Moore Regional Hospital. Instead, it offered her an opportunity for both career and personal growth that she has appreciated and embraced.
Today, Ritter also serves as administrative coordinator for the Southeast Region of the Medical Fitness Association (SEMFA), which recently recognized her with its 2013 “Rising Star” award. The award was presented during the annual Medical Fitness Association (MFA) conference in San Diego, Calif., in November.
John Caliri, director of the FirstHealth Centers for Health & Fitness, nominated Ritter for the award and says she richly deserves it.
“Her role within MFA and specifically SEMFA over the last nine years as administrative assistant to the SEMFA Board has ingrained her in the culture of medical fitness from an association standpoint,” Caliri says. “She serves as the main coordinator for conferences, vendor support and logistic support. A member-led organization like MFA could not exist or flourish without the tireless efforts of Sandy and those who share her commitment and her enthusiasm for learning and growth.”
A native of upstate New York, Ritter came to Moore County at age 3 in a family move prompted by her father’s role with the military. She joined the working world as a new graduate of Pinecrest High School, working in retail before moving into jobs in state and county government.
She was looking for better opportunities when she took the scheduling job in the Imaging Department at Moore Regional and later with the move to the Center for Health & Fitness, where she also found a champion in Caliri. Recognizing her management skills, he encouraged her to enroll in Sandhills Community College, where she earned an associate degree in business administration.
Since Ritter became support services coordinator for the Center for Health & Fitness, her role has expanded to include responsibility for all five fitness centers and their 200 employees with duties that include administrative and Human Resources oversight, housekeeping and maintenance.
When a co-worker suggested that she look into becoming a CPR/First Aid instructor, she approached that role with typical Ritter energy and commitment. From 2012 to 2013 alone, she taught 40 classes for the community and FirstHealth. She also does “train the trainer” classes for individuals interested in becoming instructors themselves.
Because of her role in two lifesaving episodes at the Center for Health & Fitness, she can illustrate her classes with the real-life experiences of AED (automated external defibrillator) use. In both incidents, Ritter and two co-workers pulled a fitness center AED off the wall and went to work, saving two lives that might otherwise have been lost.
“It feels really good realizing (these men) are alive today,” she says.
In addition to the responsibilities of a FirstHealth position that most people would consider more than a full-time job, Ritter spends a considerable amount of “off FirstHealth time” on SEMFA conference calls and administrative duties.
“Perhaps Sandy's most appealing attribute is her commitment to see a mission accomplished, whatever it takes,” Caliri says. “She consistently steps up to meet the needs of FirstHealth and our customers, members and patients.”
Ritter's husband, Darrin, is a captain in the narcotics division of the Moore County Sheriff's Department. Their daughter, Brittany, is a student at Coastal Carolina University.
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