Yesterday, I ran 9 miles around White Rock Lake in Dallas. I had a few friends tag along and we had fun discussions and great laughter. Much of our time, believe it or not, was centered around talking about running and food and general ideas on health. We spent some amount of time talking about how we raise our children. We acknowledged our imperfections, but expressed our dreams of our children being healthier and being able to contribute greatly to society. Although I didn’t spend a great deal of time explaining what was going on in my head, I was remembering why I started the Loop-the-Lake Foundation.
Lately, I have done a lot of reading and searching the web about the link between nutrition and obesity. I was amazed by what I found. I learned virtually every diet “we” go on ultimately fails us after some length of time. At the same time I learned nutrition is just as important as exercise to make and keep the body lean and healthy. I don’t think the nutrition element is emphasized as much as it should be. I also found out about the typical american diet for children. I was shocked and saddened to learn the real facts. For example, most kids now think macaroni and cheese or a cheese pizza is considered a vegetable.
Many children get more than 50% of their diet from fast food restaurants. What was more incredible was learning that many kids below a certain income level have little access to fresh produce. Apples, oranges, celery, these are items very remote in a kids diet today. I was raised in the 70s and 80s in a big northern city. I was one of the few over weight kids in the neighborhood. My nickname of “ten ton” was almost a badge of honor when it was time to pick a football team. When we were choosing teams for tag, that was altogether a different story. Still we had more access to fruits and vegetables. Fast food was simply a special treat rather than a regular diet.
Now, instead of one in ten children who are overweight or obese, we have one in four or one in three. Children are developing type II diabetes before they reach their 18th birthday. When I was a child, I knew no one with type II diabetes. I did have a good friend who suffered from type I. Unfortunately, he did not see his 11th birthday. Even then, as a young boy, I had a rudimentary understanding of the disease he suffered from. Frankly, we never thought type II diabetes could even happen to children. That was reserved for the “old folks”, using my childhood vernacular.
But today, one third of the children born after 2000 will develop this disease. Black and Latino children will suffer worse at an alarming 50%. These numbers are so surreal that I had to check them several times. The path we’re on is leading to this type of destruction. What will we do when we need young men and women to participate in the Olympics? What will happen to our work force? What will become of our military? The numbers are far reaching. The combination of poor quality food, lack of exercise and low availability of healthy food choices has our nation in a perilous state.
For some time I thought there was little I could do. But I know the little I can do can go a long way. When I learned about Marathon Kids their agenda touched my heart. Yes, they are a marathon program to please us fanatical runners. Their participants run one mile a week for 26 weeks culminating with a Spring celebration for the final mile. This a tactic for teaching the importance of movement and regular exercise. But they know it is not enough. Marathon Kids also teaches kids about nutrition and even plants gardens in schools to teach children how to grow their own healthy foods. It seems to be a complete package. The parents I run with who have children in the program sing its praises. Every story makes me smile.
Better yet, Marathon Kids offers the program free to the children and every $10 raised allows another kid to participate. So, over the last three years Beth Crider and I have set a goal to raise $10,000 so that 1,000 local Dallas children could be added to the program. We’ve come close every year, but have not yet made the mark. We need the help of our local Dallas runners.
Our annual Run Around White Rock Lake is on December 31st at 7 AM. We host the run on this day regardless to what day of the week it lands. We’ve invited the runners we know and each year the run has expanded. I believe this year we can reach that mark. Those who donate $30 will receive a cool Loop-the-Lake souvenir and their name in a drawing for more prizes. Donations of $50 will pay for 5 children and $100 will pay for 10 children. You get the point. I’m asking that we all give what we can. We’ll accept any amount anyone is willing and able to give.
One important element to Beth and I is that we keep the run fun and simple. We do not require a donation for our runners to join us on December 31st. We really want to see your smiling faces, rain, cold or shine ready for the final loop of the year. Just come out and hang with us, enjoy some coffee, get a snack and meet some like minded (probably crazy because we love running so much) people.
If you plan to attend and you want to donate, please click here for our online donation page and sign up early. We take donations on the day of the event, but it makes for a long line and could delay our start.
Thanks for all your support over the years. We can’t wait to see you!
Donations Received To Date: $1,632
Percentage of Goal Met: 16%
15 Days left to reach our goal!