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Las Vegas charity walk to fight childhood obesity

Step out to help stomp out childhood obesity during the Las Vegas 5K and Cease to be Obese Charity Walk planned for Saturday through the campus of UNLV, 4505 S. Maryland Parkway.

The charity walk, hosted by the Jump for Joy Foundation, is an exercise of awareness for a growing epidemic.

In Southern Nevada, the childhood obesity statistics are a stumbling point.

According to the Southern Nevada Health District, 11.5 percent of valley kids will be obese, and nearly 15 percent more will be clinically overweight in adulthood.

Thirty-eight percent of kids in Clark County are already obese or overweight, said Anthony Alegrete, chairman and president of the Jump for Joy Foundation.

“(Obesity) is the second killer, a short second to tobacco use,” he said. “We want to help change people’s lifestyles.”

The walk is $25, the general race is $30 and the cost is $35 for the competitive race, which includes a cash purse of $5,000 for the winner of the 5K portion.

The general and competitive races are set to start at 8 a.m. with registration planned at
7:30 a.m. The walk is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m., and registration is set for 8 a.m.

There will also be fitness vendors and an obstacle course for kids and parents to compete in together.

The event is the first fundraiser of the year for the nonprofit Jump for Joy Foundation.

Alegrete started the group with partner Branden Collinsworth about a year ago. Collinsworth, a trainer, and Alegrete, a UNLV marketing junior, teamed up to offer Camp Jump, which offers free bimonthly “camps” for kids and their parents to learn healthy new habits.

Alegrete works to show kids ages 6-17 that fitness is fun and cool by incorporating celebrities in their field and science experiments.

“If it’s not cool, kids don’t want to deal with it,” Alegrete said. “That’s what the Cease to be Obese crusade is all about.”

Meanwhile, kids’ parents learn healthy tips with a trained nutritionist during the two-hour camp sessions.

The events are hosted every other Saturday at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas’ Lied Memorial Clubhouse, 2850 Lindell Road.

Kelly Smith brought her 13-year-old son Jake to Camp Jump after discovering a brochure about the Jump for Joy Foundation during a doctor visit with him. Jake was struggling with health issues related to his diagnosis of a fatty liver, a condition reversible with proper diet and exercise. His weight contributed to high blood pressure and cholesterol. It hurt him to walk.

Simple steps such as joining Camp Jump changed his outlook, Smith said. Now, all three of her children attend the camp.

“It’s kind of a fight getting them there on a Saturday, but once they’re there, they enjoy it,” she said.

Now, Jake is more active during the week and spends more time outside.

Camp Jump sessions have been hosted by a variety of individuals who have fitness as a major part of their work, such as mixed martial arts fighters, choreographers, people who jump rope, professional athletes and firefighters. At the end of the sessions, the kids participate in a hands-on science experiment.

During a recent Camp Jump, the kids mixed acids, syrups and carbonation.

“We made soda. We didn’t tell them,” Alegrete said. “We made a joke and asked, ‘Do you want to drink this?’ and they say, ‘No, no.’ It’s Pepsi. They drink this all the time.”

Their parents learn cooking and shopping tips.

Gail Spencer and her two children, 11 and 15, have attended Camp Jump since it started in May 2010. She said an impactive lesson during the parent sessions has been watching a fast-food meal age in a sealed container.

“(The nutritionist) keeps bringing it back and you see how it stays fresh because of all the preservatives and chemicals,” Spencer said.

Her daughter, who has a heart condition, and son invite friends to Camp Jump and are more active.

Spencer said Camp Jump sessions are gifts that she gives her family.

“I think parents can devote two hours of their Saturday to their kids,” she said.

The Spencers plan to participate in Saturday’s walk.

For more information or to register, visit jumpforjoyfoundation.org or call 835-9216.

Contact Centennial and Paradise View reporter Maggie Lillis at mlillis@viewnews.com or 477-3839.

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