Celebrity ‘loser’ pumps up students
A self-professed former fat kid stopped by Holladay Elementary School Sept. 20 to present an interactive assembly designed to help students avoid struggling with their weight as he did.
Austin Andrews, who lost more than 200 pounds as a contestant on NBC’s Biggest Loser 2011, had HES third-, fourth- and fifth-graders singing, shouting and dancing as he peppered them with information and questions about exercising and making good nutrition choices.
The visit was sponsored by Wholly Guacamole, which brought the “guac mobile,” a 55-foot trailer shaped like a bowl of guacamole, to Holladay from its previous visit to a Sterling school.
Wholly Guacamole staff members giggled as they described their travels down the East Coast in the brightly-colored, oddly-shaped truck.
“Driving down the highway, you see all the people hit their brake lights [as the “guac mobile” looms in their rear view mirrors],” said one staff member. “It’s a trip!”
Although there were no guacamole samples to be had (“The Baltimore Farmers Market cleaned us out,” said a staffer), students posed for photos with the truck and teachers were given coupons to distribute later.
From Richmond, the “guac mobile” was heading to North Carolina, where Andrews would take the “Check Your Choice Tour” and his presentation about healthy habits to additional elementary schools.
A finalist on Biggest Loser 2011, Andrews noted in an interview following the presentation that after feeling so badly about his size as a child, he can’t imagine a more rewarding pursuit than helping to curb the trend toward childhood obesity.
While other children weren’t necessarily cruel to him about his weight, said Andrews, “I felt bad enough just to go through that. . . . And I don’t want to see students go through it.”
He also pointed out that in addition to targeting children ages 6 to 14 “the range you have to make an impact” -- the campaign also is designed to educate parents and get them involved in anti-obesity efforts.
“If parents aren’t modeling good behavior,” said Andrews, “it’s hard to get [children to cooperate]. It’s good to see schools taking care of that.”
During his presentation, Andrews had two student volunteers hold up a t-shirt and pair of pants that he wore when he weighed more than 400 pounds, and pointed out that the weight equaled that of several third-graders.
To loud cheers, Holladay Principal Angela Allen then presented Andrews with a considerably smaller HES t-shirt emblazoned with the school motto, and inducted him into “The Dream Team” as students shouted the motto in unison: “Dream, Lead and Inspire!”
Wholly Guacamole staff members reported afterwards that they immediately began getting feedback from viewers across the country who were inspired as they watched the presentation on the “Check Your Choice” blog.
One viewer posted the message, “What a wonderful school motto! That is the kind of school I want my kids to attend.”
To see a brief video of Andrews’ Holladay visit, visit http://checkyourchoice.tumblr.com
Dr. Even Alexander, a New York Times best-selling author who has been featured on Oprah and Dr. Oz, was in town last week to promote his June 27 talk, "Proof of Heaven," at Glen Allen High School.
Alexander (pictured, at right, while Unity of Bon Air church member Harry Simmons interviews him) has written about what he considers to be his journey through the afterlife.
Tickets to this month's event are $25 and will support the new Bon Secours Hospice House being built later this year. > Read more.
The Innsbrook Rotary Club, which is celebrating its 25th year in 2015, has completed a number of volunteer projects this year and raised thousands of dollars for various organizations through three events.
The club's annual rose sale, benefit for youth live auction and Virginia Fire Games competition, combined with individual and corporate donations, have raised nearly $70,000 – money that the club contributes back to the community.
FeedMore is the beneficiary of the club's 25th anniversary project, which provides refrigerated trailers to be used for the distribution of food throughout Central Virginia. > Read more.
Chef Bryan Voltaggio will host a special three-course dinner event July 21-22 at his Willow Lawn Family Meal restaurant. The menu will consist of his favorite dishes and offer diners the chance to purchase a signed copy of his newly released book, HOME.
Voltaggio will attend and cook at each dinner, as well as share stories that inspired recipes for the book. > Read more.
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