Former Chief helps community find Will to Succeed
Topeka Capital Journal - 8/25/2019
Pro Football Hall of Famer Will Shields touched down in Topeka this weekend to promote a love for healthy living.
“Health and wellness to me is part of helping you become mentally and physically stronger,” Shields said.
Shields, founder of the Will to Succeed Foundation, partnered with Aetna Better Health of Kansas and Special Olympics Kansas to host the Will to Succeed Foundation Health Fair on Saturday at the Stormont Vail Events Center. The fair featured healthy food, activities designed to encourage active living and booths set up by health organizations
with ties to Topeka.
“The idea is just to try to have as many free activities for folks — so we’ve got it targeted at children and families, individuals with disabilities and also the elderly,” said Chris Beurman, community development manager for Aetna Better Health of Kansas.
Beurman said the fair was an opportunity for Aetna members and those in the Topeka community to participate in activities they might not typically be able to take part in. He added educating the public was a key component.
“What we try to focus on is health education but also on lifestyle education in general,” Beurman said. “The prevention care is so important, and Will’s a testament himself to it from the standpoint that he has really turned his life around after football — from losing over a hundred pounds himself and becoming more exercise focused. And that’s exactly what we’re trying to do is say, ‘We need to do things prior to being sick.’ “
According to Shields, it is important to involve children and families in that health education.
“If you get the family into thinking about health and wellness, then it makes it easier,” Shields said. “It’s hard to just be that only person in your household that’s talking about health and wellness. If you can get the group around you to be as strong and positive and to think about health and wellness as a group, then you’ll become healthier because you’ll all keep each other accountable and try to help each other grow.”
Cory Payne attended Saturday’s health fair with her three children. She heard about the event through a friend who works with Aetna.
Payne said she and her boys — ages 7, 8 and 11 — decided to show up because her kids are active, and she saw it as an opportunity to teach them more about health and wellness.
“I think the biggest thing was our sugary drinks display over here,” Payne said. “Even just seeing the difference in the two Gatorades — it registered why mom doesn’t let them drink a lot of those things.”
Shields said he hopes the health fair reached people in all income brackets, especially those who may struggle to afford healthy foods.
“When you’re in the lower bracket you more or less go — what can we eat? What can we do? How can we shop? How can we afford to be healthy?” Shields said. “So we’re trying to find out — hey how can we get those options available so that everyone’s healthy regardless of what socioeconomic class you’re in?”
The Will to Succeed Foundation will host health fairs at three other Kansas locations in coming weeks. Those fairs will take place in Kansas City, Pittsburg and Wichita.
“These are places that we sort of marketed, saying if we space them out just enough, we can cover different parts of Kansas,” Shields said.
And he only expects participation to go up from here.
“This is our first year and first event. So just as a starting point — you have to start somewhere,” Shields said. “Hopefully, as we continue doing it throughout different communities, it’ll grow.”
India Yarborough, firstname.lastname@example.org