By Don Bolding
Killeen Daily Herald
By noon Saturday, officials had counted almost 500 people at the third annual Killeen Independent School District Family Fitness and Wellness Fair at Killeen High School's Leo Buckley Stadium.
The outdoor venue permitted a lot more walking, running, jumping and dancing by presenters giving demonstrations and by drill teams and cheerleaders from high schools and middle schools, who bestowed gifts on children finishing the opening fun run at 8:30 a.m. on the track.
"Attendance started pretty slow," said Libby Harris, a school nutrition office supervisor who was helping staff the entrance, "but then people found out admission and everything else was free and starting calling friends on their cell phones. Then things really picked up."
"This is all about targeting childhood obesity," said school nutrition director Steve Murphy, co-chair of the event with parent community involvement specialist Brenda Smith. "And we hope everyone has a good time."
The festival atmosphere was supposed to foster good times despite the bluntness of some learning experiences, such as heart rate, blood pressure and body mass index checks by a team composed mostly of volunteers from Metroplex Health System. Anyone close enough to their booth was urgently invited in, given a blood pressure and pulse check and ushered onto scales assessing weight versus height and then given written documentation of the results.
"We're finding a whole lot of overweight people," said volunteer Frances Cipple. "Of course that's why we're here, because it's what the whole country is dealing with."
Metroplex wellness coordinator Michelle Demarais said, "Most of our workers here are volunteers. We can't say enough about how much good they do in helping us do things like this for the public."
The Metroplex booth was near the 50-yard line, directly opposite a demonstration about one way to shed excess pounds by Zumba Fitness, a two-instructor team that holds classes at the Harker Heights Activity Center and Harker Heights Recreation Center.
"Our slogan is 'Ditch the Workout, Join the Party,'" said instructor Amber Koloroutis. "Zumba is essentially a workout dance that tones all parts of the body, especially the core - abdomen, oblique muscles, back. We had one lady who dropped two waist sizes in two months."
A changing group of a couple of dozen mostly young women were on the track for impromptu classes with trademark belts of bangles all morning.
"Five years ago, we couldn't interest any gym or fitness club in hosting these classes," she said, "but now they all do. We integrate hip-hop, merengue, all sorts of Latin and international dances so that people have fun."
A team of high-ranking officers and enlisted personnel from Charlie Company, 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, was operating a minor-emergency booth because Killeen High School is the battalion's adopted school, said Capt. Yassir Vizcaya, who said shortly before the fair closed at 1 p.m. that a couple of minor abrasions were apparently the only injuries anyone suffered.
"We're just here to support anything the school does," he said. "Some of our people do tutoring, too."
The Army's Child, Youth and School Services also had a table and a Velcro-ball game to attract military-affiliated families to distribute schedules about sports activities the rest of the year.
Among many other activities were short programs by the Manor and Live Oak Ridge Middle School drill teams, immunizations by the Bell County Health Department, bicycle safety demonstrations by the Explorer Scouts, live cooking demonstrations, autographs by pro football player Juaquin Iglesias, CPR demonstrations, karate and yoga demonstrations, presentations by chiropractor Scott Isdale and dietician Janelle Dietze, Curves and Ladies Workout Express fitness centers, dental care demonstrations by Dr. Leslie Trippe and Kool Smiles, three-legged races and demonstrations of fire trucks and ambulances by the Killeen Fire Department.
Contact Don Bolding at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7557.