Aging Together is inviting the community to honor Orange County’s Dr. Randy Merrick and four other leaders from the area at its inaugural Five Over Fifty event.

Aging Together works to aid the communities of Culpeper, Fauquier, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock by creating strong partnerships and bettering services for the aging population. The mission of Aging Together is to “build collaborations that create and enhance supports for older persons, their families and their caregivers.” Another important part of the mission is acknowledging the many contributions older adults make throughout their communities and Five Over Fifty was created to do just that.

Executive Director of Aging Together Chris Miller said the organization decided it was time to start showcasing the positive impact these five older adults have made to the region.

“The Five Over Fifty have given to their communities over decades and have benefitted people of all ages,” Miller said. “We also wanted to select people who have not necessarily been in the limelight a great deal; people who have been working quietly and tirelessly.”

The honorees include: T.I. Martin of Culpeper, Jean Lowe of Fauquier, Jean Kane of Madison, Dr. Merrick of Orange and Hal Hunter of Rappahannock.

The Five Over Fifty were selected by the Aging Together Board of Directors which includes all five directors of the areas Department of Social Services, Piedmont United Way Executive Director Jack Garber, Rappahannock-Rapidan Community Services (RRCS) Executive Director Brian Duncan, Rappahannock Regional Commission Director Jeff Walker, faith leaders and others from community service organizations.

“They know the region well and discussed a number of nominees from each county,” she said.

Orange’s Dr. Merrick was selected as one of the five for his work with the Orange Free Clinic and for being a pioneer in laser therapy.

Dr. Merrick grew up on a farm outside of Gordonsville and attended both Grymes Memorial School and Woodberry Forest. He received his medical degree from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. Dr. Merrick returned to Orange and established a family practice.

“Since I returned home to practice medicine I’ve focused on the medical end of service and the idea of being able to serve those with no health insurance or access to healthcare was something I saw a huge need for,” he said.

Along with other community leaders and physicians, Dr. Merrick helped establish the Orange County Free Clinic which opened in 2006. He continues to serve as president of the clinic’s board of directors and volunteers countless hours as a volunteer physician for the clinic.

“We see first-hand his dedication to the patients at the free clinic and it’s amazing,” said April Taylor, head of resource development at the free clinic. She said the number of patients registered at the free clinic has grown from 86 at the end of 2007, to more than 2,300 currently.

Dr. Merrick has also served as medical director at Woodberry Forest School, medical examiner for Orange and Madison counties, board member of the North American Association for Laser Therapy and as former medical director of the Orange County Rescue Squad.

Orange’s Director of Social Services Bob Lingo also serves on the Aging Together board and says Dr. Merrick embodies the spirit of community, volunteerism and giving.

“Some contributions and efforts speak eloquently for themselves and it is certain that Dr. Merrick’s do exactly that,” Lingo said. “I cannot imagine our community without him and I wouldn’t want to.”

Dr. Merrick said the idea of ‘service above self’ has always been a part of his thinking but it’s something many county residents practice.

“I’m humbled to be chosen, however there’s so many other people in this county that have done such wonderful things for the people of this county that I wish they were up there receiving this award with me,” he said.

Chosen as Family Physician of the Year by the Virginia Academy of Family Physicians in 2001 and Volunteer of the Year in 2010, Dr. Merrick is also a leader in the field of laser therapy and has found that Low Intensity Laser Therapy (LILT) may heal and cure most conditions that cause chronic pain. He hopes this technology will soon become main-stream in all fields of medicine.

“What I have enjoyed learning about Dr. Merrick is how humble he is and how in his professional work he also strives to help people live better by using laser therapy to provide less intrusive medical care with less pain,” Miller said.

Dr. Merrick said he will continue to work with the free clinic while also addressing other needs in the community like the aging population and a growing heroin epidemic among the youth.

The Five Over Fifty event will be held Friday, June 20 at the State Theatre of Culpeper. Awards, a reception and benefit concert by Deanna Bogart will be part of the festivities that begin at 6 p.m.

“People should attend to show their support for what these five people have done to improve the quality of life for citizens here,” Miller said. “People who attend will have a good time while showing their support for the benefits of aging well.”

For more information or to purchase tickets for the event visit, http://www.agingtogether.org.

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