Tony Stewart and Jared Fogle joked, laughed and exercised with children and parents at a convocation Wednesday at Columbus North High School. But they meant to leave a serious message.
“(We are) trying to help to get kids and get parents to understand to get your kids off of these iPhones and get them off of their computers and get them outside,” Stewart said. “There is a lot more stuff you can learn outside than you can sitting on your butt at a computer.”
Stewart, the Columbus native and NASCAR champion, and Fogle, the Subway spokesman, capped off a day of park dedications with the event at North. They appeared in front of a crowd of about 150, including cheerleaders and winners of a grade school essay contest. Stewart, Fogle and others donated more than $500,000 to rebuild playgrounds at four Columbus parks in the Race to Play initiative of the Columbus Park Foundation.
“We have four new playgrounds around town to not only give these kids an opportunity to go out to play but also give the parents some peace of mind knowing that you can let your kids outside and they will have a place to go that is safe, that has been designed for them. And whether you are a physically challenged child all the way to the healthiest child, there is something for everybody at these playgrounds,” Stewart said.
Fogle, famous for losing 245 pounds on a Subway sandwich diet while a student at Indiana University in Bloomington, is celebrating 15 years of weight loss. He told the crowd at North that he started his own foundation in 2005 as a way to fight childhood obesity.
“We really try to make a difference and hopefully make sure that kids don’t go down the same road I did myself and never weigh 425 pounds and have to wear a 60-inch (waist) pair of pants,” Fogle said.
Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. students in kindergarten through sixth grade wrote essays on the subject of how they live a healthy life. Writers of the winning essays were given front-row seats and called up for an exercise session with Fogle and Stewart.
Fogle and Stewart led the children in a series of basic exercises that Fogle stressed are “easy to do, that are fun and get your blood moving.”
He also explained that his foundation stresses a healthy eating plan including “go foods, slow foods and low foods,” which represent foods in a healthy diet that children can eat a lot of, foods they should eat a little less of and the foods they should avoid.
Fogle called up one of the contest winners, Paige Osbourne, a Parkside Elementary School third-grader, to read her essay.
Stewart also took his turn with a giant slingshot, firing T-shirts with the Race to Play logo into the crowd.
Race to Play sponsors
Sponsors for Race to Play, a $500,000 playground improvement initiative for Mead Village, Morningside, Ninth Street and Pence Street parks, included:
Tony Stewart & Tony Stewart Foundation
Tammy and Bob Burton/Haddad Foundation
Hazel M. Teegarden Foundation
Estep & Co. (Subway)/Jared Fogle Foundation
Columbus Regional Health Foundation
Johnson Witkemper, Marvin Johnson & Associates, Steve and Linn Johnson
Victoria Craig Griffin
Carter’s Kids Foundation/Sinclair Playgrounds
Elizabeth Ruddick Nugent Foundation
Clarence E. and Inez R. Custer Foundation
Tom and Gina Wetherald
Bob Poynter Columbus
Rick and Alice Johnson
Bob and Barb Stevens
Jim and Toots Henderson
Audio Magic! Entertainment
Stacy Able Photography
News Talk 1010 WCSI, WKKG, WINN 104.9, Y106.1 FM
Kiwanis Clubs/Key Clubs
CIM Technology Solutions
North Vernon Beverage Co.
Noblitt Fabricating Inc.
Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.