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Hospitality Classic a step toward reducing diabetes risk in children, boosting health

MARSHALL – Parents who hope to protect their children from habits that lead to poor health can get some extra help on Saturday, May 17.

That’s when the 32nd annual Oaklawn Hospital Hospitality Classic steps off, bringing more than 1,000 participants together with running and walking events that will take them throughout the historic town and its rural surroundings.

“One of the best things we can do for our children is encourage them to be more active and engage with other people in healthy, fun activities,” said Lisa Middleton, who supervises Oaklawn’s HealthYou program.

“The Hospitality Classic is a perfect example of the kind of activity that gets young and old alike doing something good for themselves,” said Middleton, a physical therapist assistant/athletic trainer with Oaklawn Physical Rehabilitation Services.

The HealthYou project was launched in 2010 as a community-wide effort to bring positive health messages into public-school classrooms. Prevention of health problems is a major part of the effort, Middleton said.

The project’s goals include the encouragement of increased exercise and a healthier diet, both of which are vital in the effort to prevent type 2 diabetes.

“We want to be sure such habits are instilled at a young age,” Middleton said.

Type 2 diabetes appears more aggressive in young people between ages 10 and 17, making them prone to the type of life-threatening illnesses normally associated with older adults, the report noted. One major risk factor is obesity.

Increasing physical activity and cutting calorie intake help achieve federal goals for reducing obesity rates, researchers demonstrated in a recent study supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The Hospitality Classic is endorsed by the governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports, and encourages individuals of all ages to support healthy lifestyles through running or walking. Previous events have drawn participants from many surrounding cities and states.

Groups of would-be runners and walkers already are gathering in preparation for the event, though the free “Five Weeks to a 5k” program administered through the Oaklawn Life Improvement Center. Registration for “Five Weeks to a 5k” is required and may be made by calling (269) 781-7585.

The Hospitality Classic itself will feature a 10K race beginning at 7:30 a.m., followed by the 5K race at 9 a.m. A noncompetitive May Walk will begin at 9 a.m. following the runners, with the Mile Fun Run beginning at 10 a.m.

The courses, certified by USA Track & Field, start in downtown Marshall and follow city streets through the historic residential district, out into the country and back to the staging area with a fast downhill finish at the Honolulu House and Fountain Circle.

Those who wish more information – or want to download and print a registration form – may do so online at oaklawnhospital.org/about-the-hospitality-classic. Additional information about the event is available from event coordinator Theresa Shippell at (269) 789-3942.

Support for the HealthYou program comes from the Marshall Community Foundation and other grants. For information about HealthYou, call Middleton at (269) 781-6030.