It’s a well-a-bration

More than 600 people laced up their running shoes and, in the process of breaking personal records, they raised more than $61,000 for the Autism Society of North Carolina.
More than 600 people laced up their running shoes and, in the process of breaking personal records, they raised more than $61,000 for the Autism Society of North Carolina.

Speaking to about 70 people at the Sherrill Center on Sept. 16, Shellie Pfohl urged audience members to view improving the health of the nation and ending childhood obesity as everyone's responsibility.

“If it looks insurmountable, it's not,” she said in closing last night at the panel discussion, which doubled as the kickoff event for UNCA's Well-A-Bration. The annual event, sponsored by the N.C. Center for Health and Wellness, celebrates individual and community wellness initiatives and opportunities.

Pfohl (pronounced "full"), who has served as executive director of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition since 2010, joined a panel of four local community activists to discuss the future of health on both an individual and national level. She says the health of the individual and the community are inseparable, and the health of all, consequently, will require the help of all.

“The steps can be small,” said Buncombe County Health Director Gibbie Harris, who was one of the panelists.

The panel also included Asheville High School senior Tyshaun Johnson, who is an active member of Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!), a nonprofit organization that empowers youth, in partnership with adults, to create community change.

“Before I became dedicated to living a healthy life for myself,” Johnson told listeners, “I knew what it was like to be the kid who couldn't do it.” For Johnson, motivation to find solutions to childhood obesity comes from his personal experience of transformation and empowerment — along with a desire to help others achieve that feeling.

Johnson shared that hearing a message from a peer can have a huge impact, and reminded us that youth are a “resource to each other for positive inspiration just as easily as negative.”

This mentality, Pfohl said, should carry over into being advocates for health.

“We've got to take this to the school board, to the elected officials, to the decision-makers — elected or not. If it's the decision-makers at your church serving fruits and veggies instead of Krispy Kreme donuts after service, that's making a difference,” she said. For the full story, visit http://avl.mx/00u.Katie Souris

Road dog

The physical exertion that Asheville resident Kevin Johnson will endure during his 3,000 mile cross-country bicycle ride is nothing compared to what the animals in Brother Wolf’s “Help Me Heal” program have experienced. “My journey will contribute to hundreds of animals being saved and healed of various diseases or other things that would easily have given them a death sentence at any other shelter,” says Johnson, who is aiming to raise $50,000 for Brother Wolf by the time he reaches California. “Then they can be adopted and have a long, happy life. That gives me motivation to pedal on.”

Johnson began his ride on Sept. 4 from Charleston, S.C., and is aiming to reach the West Coast by early November. He’ll average about 50 miles a day. Johnson says he has enjoyed seeing the back roads of our country and watching the landscape slowly change.

Thanks to Marty Magallanes at Probikes in West Asheville, Johnson is outfitted with top-of-the-line gear. He is riding an all steel Fuji touring bike with two rear panniers.

Armed with camping gear, plenty of food and water, and the love of his own rescue dog, a chocolate lab named Baxter waiting at home, Johnson says the journey has been good for his stress and heart. “Hours and hours go by where I don't talk or hear someone talk. I watched a small river flow for two hours one evening. I have never been so calm to do that.”

Although Johnson is working toward an extraordinary goal, he says “The real heroes are the tireless staff and volunteers at Brother Wolf. They put in long hours day after day to save animals with little acknowledgment.”

Brother Wolf Animal Rescue exists solely on donations, and takes in old, sick, and vulnerable animals that most shelters would deny. Many of these animals require special attention, medicine, surgeries and rehabilitation before they can be adopted out into the community.

All of the donations to Johnson’s journey go straight to Brother Wolf’s Help Me Heal Fund, which goes directly to help animals in need. If you would like to make a donation, please visit facebook.com/wheelstohealanimals. —Sharon Bell

Locals raise more than $60,000 for Autism Society of North Carolina

More than 600 people laced up their running shoes and, in the process of breaking personal records, they raised more than $60,000 for the Autism Society of North Carolina during the 8th annual WNC Run/Walk for Autism in Asheville on Sept. 14.

The event included a competitive 5k race, a 5k non-competitive run, and a recreational 1k run/walk.

Proceeds from the run improve the lives of individuals with autism, support families affected by ASD, and help educate our community. Programs in the region include two supportive living homes, the Sara Handlan Crisis Fund, and supported employment through Blue Ridge Bags & More. — Caitlin Byrd

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