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The STAR Center Vision

Access for everyone

For the first time, assistive and adaptive technologies will be available outside a medical or physical therapy setting.

The STAR Center will provide universal access to health resources. A state-of-the-art accessible facility will offer adaptive equipment with therapeutic assistance. Collaborative and programming partners will provide disease- and disability-specific programming, job training and transitional living skills, employment for those with disabilities, and clinical class experiences, internships, and employment.

Community impact

Closing the access gap enables existing community resources to be more effective and reduces budget strain for both public and private organizations. We can elevate quality of life for thousands of people with a dramatic effect on individual and social cost.

When everyone has the resources to lead healthier lives, everyone benefits.


Our shared vision: moving together

STAR Center Story

When a popular La Crosse area sled hockey program expanded to other sports, the people behind those programs were inspired to think big.

The Coulee Region Sled Hockey Association had been formed to address the lack of opportunities for those with physical disabilities, demonstrating significant gains in strength, endurance and functional skills. These successful experiences were motivation to expand innovative, student-assisted community-based assistive exercise programming to meet the needs of people with other disabilities.

By 2017, the expanded programs and a larger mission prompted the creation of the Sports, Therapeutic and Adaptive Recreation (STAR) Association to address the issue of health equity in our community.

The STAR Association is led by a 21-member board of directors and supported by an eight-member advisory board. These directors and collaborative partners—including the two health systems and three educational institutions that partnered to create the successful La Crosse Health Science Consortium—bring broad experience in advancing solutions for community health, disability issues and health disparity.

The STAR board includes community members who have physical challenges themselves.

“This project is an opportunity to improve the health of our citizens, lower the overall cost of delivering healthcare and distinguish our community. It is another great example of our region collaborating to solve a problem that all communities face but few have the courage and determination to address. This effort will help serve a portion of our community that is in great need, which from all indicators will greatly benefit and improve the well-being of individuals, families and their communities at the same time.”

Jeff Thompson, MD
CEO Emeritus, Gundersen Health System

University partnerships

As part of our unique relationship with area colleges and universities, clinical students in programs like occupational and physical therapies, therapeutic recreation, and recreation management will be able to hone their skills by providing therapeutic assistance and adaptive recreation while earning college credit.

Mission convergence

People with disabilities need help using equipment. Health science students at UW-La Crosse, Viterbo University and Western Technical College need opportunities for clinical experience. The central La Crosse location is convenient to where area students live and learn.

adaptive recreation

“The therapeutic recreation program at UW-La Crosse wholeheartedly supports STAR Center of La Crosse, Wisconsin. The Center will offer needed adaptive recreation and sports programs in addition to therapeutic service to children and adults living in the Coulee Region. People with disabilities will have the opportunity to enhance function, develop skills, make friends and improve health and well-being. Finally, students majoring in therapeutic recreation will have opportunities to practice clinical skills in a community setting. These clinical skills are essential to their practice as therapeutic recreation specialists.”

Nancy Richeson, PhD, CTRS, FDRT
Therapeutic Recreation Program Director, UW-La Crosse
Editor–in-Chief, American Therapeutic Recreation Journal

STAR Center Association

Board of Directors

Rachel Albrecht, MBA
Trisha Ardovino, PhD, CTRS, CPRP, Secretary
George Arimond, PhD
Jim Cappuccio
Lia Coryell, CTRS
Charlene Deters, PT
Adam Flood
Susan Halter, MD, Vice President
Tanner Holst, MBA, FACHE
Lucas Herro
Cindy Hood, MT, ASCP, Treasurer
Tom Koster
Dianne Neefe
Cheryl Neubauer
Marlis O’Brien, RRT, AE-C, CPFT
Mark Sandheinrich, PhD
Regina Siegel, MEd
Tracy Stewart, PHD
Chip Weisbrod, MS, CPA
Chris Weiss
Virginia Wintersteen, MD, President

Advisory Board

Dave Amborn
Mike Desmond
Barb Erickson
Mike Keil
Sean O’Flaherty
Gwyneth Straker, PT
Jeff Thompson
UW-La Crosse Small Business Development Center