New Port Richey's Doggone Fitness Walk takes steps against obesity
NEW PORT RICHEY - Youngsters pounded the pavement around Orange Lake on Saturday to help keep off the pounds. To underscore that exercise can be fun, most of the kids brought along their dogs to do laps around the lake for the Doggone Fitness Walk, a new event. Fitness takes more than a single day, organizers on the city's Youth Advisory Board emphasized. Participants received logbooks to track their exercise during the next 14 weeks, board member Elizabeth Giordano said. There will be a celebration on April 20 with prizes for steadfast exercisers.Tinkerbell could hardly wait as she danced and leaped at the starting line. The miniature Doberman pincher seemed to urge owners Cathy Veon and her son Aaron, 8, a Moon Lake Elementary School student, to hurry up. Hudson High School JROTC members set up a boot camp of sorts to test the mettle of the youngsters, who jumped through a tire obstacle course, did pushups and threw punches at a boxing dummy. Best friends Dylana Lucier, 11, Julia Hesterhagen, 10, and Kira Hart, 9, teamed up at the event with their dogs, Sonny and Lily. Dylana and Julia attend Longleaf Elementary School, and Kira goes to Deer Park Elementary School. At the dog obstacle course, Lily stole the show as the small dog leaped without hesitation over four hurdles that towered over her. Dylana bragged about how Lily had learned the tricks through patient training. Arthur Madden, 6, and his dad, Arthur, led their dog, Sarge, through the obstacles. Sarge soon figured out how to navigate the course, but halfway through the second lap the panting dog decided to take a break. Everyone talks about childhood obesity and fitness, but the YAB members wanted to do something about it. As advisers to the city's parks and recreation department, the group found grant money to help put on the program. All Rotary clubs in the area soon jumped onboard, said Perry Bean, assistant governor of Rotary District 6950. The clubs paid for the T-shirts for participants. Bean and his son, Sam, brought along their oversized Pomeranian mixed-breed dog, Ozzy.