Despite its name, the “Chocolate 5K” event was anything but fattening.
On January 17th, runners from Orlando and across southern Florida gathered in Blanchard Park to participate in the fight against obesity. Not only were they there to compete, they were there to spread awareness about America’s growing problem with obesity and health.
The event was organized by the Kerosene Lamp Foundation (KLF), a non-profit organization founded by former NBA player Adonal Foyle. According to its website, the foundation’s mission is “to empower youth to grow into healthy and well-educated adults.” Since 2003, the organization has striven towards “promoting education and health awareness, providing free athletics [and] academics camps, mentoring at-risk student-athletes and building/refurbishing basketball courts.”
Foyle, who retired from the NBA in 2010 after having played for the Orlando Magic and the Golden State Warriors, decided to devote his post-basketball career to improving the lives of youth in his adopted home. Born and raised in the tucked-away Caribbean island nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Foyle experienced first-hand both the burdens of poverty and a lack of resources — as well as the benefits athletics can offer to children and young adults.
Writing in the Bleacher Report, Foyle realized that as a retired NBA player, he had to “reinvent himself.” As a result, he devoted even more of his time to the KLF, seeing the potential it had to improve the lives of not only children but also the community at large. Named after the kerosene lamps Foyle would use to study as a boy in St. Vincent, the KLF promotes athletic and academic events throughout the United States and the Caribbean. So far, it has impacted over 6,500 children.
The Chocolate 5K was the latest KLF effort to raise awareness and money for an issue that directly affects children across the United States: obesity. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 17% of young Americans ages two through 19 are obese. Black and Hispanic children, in particular, are more susceptible to obesity than white children, as are children in lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The same holds true for adults, except the percentage of obese American adults is even higher, reaching a whopping 34.9% in 2012.
Despite the fact that in 2012 more than 15,000 5K events were held in the U.S., the American population is struggling with keeping its weight down. The KLF and other organizations are working tirelessly to educate as well promote healthy lifestyle choices for children.
The Chocolate 5K event reflects a wider pattern of obesity-prevention initiatives sprouting up throughout Florida. As reported in the Gainesville Sun, the Alachua County government declared January 5th to be “Healthiest Weight Florida Day.” The day recognized county and state officials who have work toward combating obesity in the state. The special designation follows in the footstep of Florida’s wider “Healthiest Weight Florida Initiative” from last year, a program intended to raise awareness about the dangers of obesity as well as offering programs and services to help Florida’s overweight citizens.
Local news affiliate CBS 12 of Palm Beach County reported that in addition to the Chocolate 5K event, a special training camp was set up for a local middle school on January 14th by the Miami Dolphins. Run by former and current Dolphins players, the camp promoted health and exercise activities with the hopes of encouraging children to eat and exercise right.
“If you are going to eat, you have to make sure you exercise,” said former Dolphins tight end Troy Drayton — a sentiment the state of Florida wholeheartedly agrees with.