Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

An Interview with First Lady Cheri Daniels
Wife, mother, grandmother, First Lady, and dedicated Hoosier

by Tessa Judge

August 01, 2012

As the year steps past its halfway point, Cheri Daniels, wife of Governor Mitch Daniels, sees the end of her husband’s final term as bittersweet: “I’ll miss a lot of things. I’ll miss a lot of the people I’ve met along the way,” she says. “But I’m looking forward to fewer commitments and having more time to myself and my family.”

As a wife, mother, grandmother, First Lady, and active Indianapolis community member, Daniels spends much of her time as a caretaker of others in various ways. While she’ll be stepping back from certain obligations, post-First-Lady life will surely not hinder her caring spirit.

Her compassion immediately reaches out to the 5 M’s in her life: Mitch, Meagan, Melissa, Meredith, and Margaret. A supportive wife and First Lady, she encourages Mitch through every step of his career and personal life. Meagan, her oldest daughter, is married and works for Habitat for Humanity. Melissa, her second daughter, is married and expecting. Meredith, daughter number three, is a photographer and gave Daniels her first grandchild, Audrey, who is now 7 months old. And finally, Margaret, daughter number four, is a newly engaged investment banker living in New York City.

As if raising four extremely successful daughters wasn’t enough for her to do, Daniels works to raise awareness for something she feels particularly passionate about: women’s heart disease. Daniels has developed quite a passion for women’s heart disease awareness. And this passion stems directly from personal experience:

“Well, my mother had heart disease so that was a driving force behind my passion to raise awareness,” she confesses. “My involvement came around the time when most women believed that breast cancer was their biggest worry. It’s not. Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women.”

Daniels’ involvement reaches as far as she can take it. She began by going to colleges and speaking with women about the dangers and risks of heart disease. Since then, her efforts have taken stride. She’s been to schools, women’s groups, and hospitals, just to name a few, to speak and raise as much awareness as she can.

Daniels battles her own risk of heart disease by staying physically fit. With a schedule as busy as hers, she still makes sure to fit exercise into her day: “I walk 10 miles a day in five mile segments, so two walks a day. I like to stay active. I try and life weights a couple times a week, I love to do Wii fit, I love Wii dance, I like to golf, and I like to swim. I just like to do anything I can to stay active outside,” she explains.

Through her actions and not just her words, she truly emphasizes the importance of taking care of one’s body in order to avoid heart disease and other health issues. “It’s important that people have some sort of activity. Even just 30 minutes a day is fantastic. I try to find fun things to do to make it seem like it’s not exercise.”

With the summer on its way out, Daniels is very much looking forward to the Indiana State Fair. Since her husband has been in office, Daniels has made it a point to be involved with the fair: “Our fair is now 17 days long; I go every single day. I do all kinds of things. I’ve won the cow milking competition, the watermelon seed spitting competition, the cross-saw competition, the corn husking competition. You name it, I’ve done it. Usually I’ll do just about anything they ask me to do,” she says excitedly.

As much as she enjoys these competitions, a different aspect of the fair holds a special place in her heart. “Aside from the food, which I love, it’s the people. They really believe in what they’re doing. The people in Pioneer Village, many of which are 80+, come out here during the hottest part of the year every day and demonstrate farm equipment. Those people are very dedicated. They don’t get paid anything to be there. They are there for 17 full days. They’re there to set it up in the beginning and take it apart at the end,” Daniels gushes.

Her admiration for the people of Indiana and the admiration the people of Indiana have for her help make Indiana what it is. Born and raised a Hoosier, Cheri Daniels has dedicated her life to keeping fellow Hoosiers healthy and happy. Don’t think that no longer being First Lady will change any of that. Where will you find her in August next summer? At the State Fair again, most likely, shucking corn or driving a tractor. And if that isn’t a sight to behold, I’m not too sure what is.