Exercise advocates in the Huntington area are hoping to take advantage of the popularity of health related events this summer.
Several groups in Huntington have decided the next step in the area’s continued focus on health consciousness should be the designation of a summer day to celebrate fitness.
So the United Way, Huntington YMCA, Cabell Huntington Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital, the City of Huntington and the Cabell County Commission have worked together to create the first United Day of Fitness – scheduled in June.
The day-long fitness event will feature the Herald-Dispatch West Virginia 5K Championship in the morning, followed by St. Mary’s Senior Games and the YMCA Family Fun fest featuring kids’ Olympics, activities, and a concert. Andy Fisher is vice president of the YMCA Board of Directors. He said it’s just another step in what’s become a mission of many Huntingtonians that includes the YMCA’s new Kids in Motion program.
“We do need to keep promoting healthy fitness and activity here in this area,” Fisher said. “We got a black eye a few years ago and I think things are starting to improve and this is just one thing that can help in that.”
The events will take place Saturday June 21st throughout Huntington. Fisher says there was definitely a need to seize the momentum that’s been present since being labeled the unhealthiest city in the country in 2008- and build off of it.
The West Virginia 5K will start the day at 8 a.m. in downtown Huntington. Race organizers hope the event, now in its fifth year, will attract even higher numbers than the 700 people that took part last year. The run started as a way to combat the unhealthiest label and has raised $40,000 for United Way. Kaylin Adkins is the Marketing Director for the United Way of the River Cities. Adkins said Huntington is paying more attention to the dangerous condition of obesity.
“I think that people are more aware that there is an issue, I think before it could be swept under the table or people didn’t realize that obesity was a problem,” Adkins said. “I think that we kind of get blinded when we’re around something so much, that we didn’t realize people were unhealthy.”
Adkins said you can see it’s important for the city to continue to expand these fitness opportunities to accommodate the growing number of participants. She said the events are purposefully targeting all age groups - children to seniors.
Fisher hopes this is just the beginning for the area.
“It just seems more and more opportunities are open and available for people to get out and do things as a group or individually which makes our whole community vibrant and I think it’s very, very necessary to have that,” Fisher said.