Dick Tillmar has been dubbed “Mr. Wellness” by some, primarily because of his passionate promotion of healthy lifestyles in Wisconsin. For the past 30 years, he has gathered area leaders in government and business, to address the issue of health care in our communities.
“There’s a value to (having) healthy employees,” said Tillmar, a former insurance agent turned shareholder and partner at Diversified Insurance Services Inc. in Waukesha. “I’m blessed to be with an organization that sees value in doing things that are right for the community and the industry.”
Healthy Lifestyle and Milwaukee Well City are just two of the programs Tillmar promotes throughout the Midwest, speaking on prevention as a means of reducing utilization of health services.
“Fifty percent to 70 percent of every reason for health care is preventable. People don’t take care of themselves,” said Tillmar, blaming the carefree indulgences of Wisconsinites on poor habits and bad behavior. “We’re a bunch of cheddar heads. We like our food and our drink, and we don’t exercise, so we have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity. Then when we get sick we expect to be able to take a pill and have it go away. The whole problem with the health care system is it’s designed to keep you from dying once you get sick. It’s not designed to keep you from getting sick.”
By preaching wellness and educating people on the facts, Tillmar believes he can create a network of change.
“You can’t do much about genetics, you can’t do much about the environment or what the health care system does to you, but you can do something about how you treat yourself,” he said, noting that smoking, hypertension, stress and inactivity, according to the Wellness Council of America, are related to lifestyle choice and account for 70 percent of this nation’s medical costs. Each is preventable or significantly modifiable, he said.
Healthy lifestyle programs incorporated into a business setting is one way Tillmar wants to initiate change.
“There’s a lot of ways to get it done, but the No. 1 way is to start,” he said.
Jane Wood, president of community health charities Wisconsin, nominated Tillmar for the Health Care Heroes Award. She credited Tillmar’s sense of inclusion for his effectiveness in promoting workplace wellness.
“He doesn’t just meet you and talk to you about how lifestyle changes will benefit your employees and your company. He adds value to involvement by connecting mutually beneficial companies and individuals. And, he is willing to explore what may make a good fit,” Wood said. “Dick Tillmar inspires and empowers others to work together to achieve success. An introduction here; some encouragement there; a proposal to explore with others – all come together to create a combined energy and commitment that generates positive, healthy results.”
Tillmar is a salesman at heart with a Boy Scout background.
“When I was growing up, I’d ask my scoutmaster what more could I do, and he always told me to give back. Give back, give back, give back, and so I have,” Tillmar said. “And I have to say the last several years have been quite rewarding. Lifestyle drives the cost/benefits of being healthy. It pays to be healthy. So, let’s get with it!”