News from our favorite fitness non-profit

The fitness and health of children are the priority of Operation FitKids (OFK). Working with local high schools, organizations and youth groups, OFK creates fitness centers, at minimal cost, to provide adolescents and teenagers with greater access to comprehensive physical fitness programs. In doing so, OFK touches many lives. OFK continues to reach as many children as possible and along the way, there are people and personalities who will always stand out. One such person is a girl named Valy Reyes.

Born without eyes and a hole in her heart, Valy had struggled to participate in her adaptive physical education program. She began her new exercise program on a computerized treadmill that was donated through OFK.

When Valy first began walking on the treadmill, she started off at the lowest speed, .5 mph. She was only allowed on the treadmill for 10 minutes per session due to her weak heart. Valy occasionally wore a heart rate monitor to track her progress. Within three to four weeks, Valy progressed to 1.1 mph with a small incline.

“She may not walk fast, but for Valy, this was great,” said Trish McIntyre, Valy's instructor. “Her family is thrilled that she is out there walking.”

After working out on a regular basis, Valy is now able to participate with her classmates in a “vigorous” cardiovascular exercise program.

“With music blaring, the students work their hearts and bodies in ways they've never dreamed of,” said McIntyre. “They feel as if they are at a health spa and it makes them feel very special.”

In June of 2000, OFK provided the treadmill, a stairclimber, a Nordic Track, and an exercise bike to the Adaptive PE Program at Montgomery High School in San Diego. With other donated equipment, the students with severe disabilities are able to complete a cardiovascular fitness circuit that is the envy of other students on campus.

OFK is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and fitness of America's youth. Through the use of recycled commercial fitness equipment donated by manufacturers and health clubs, OFK provides fitness facilities to communities in need.

Although granting wishes isn't always instantaneous, OFK tries to meet the needs of every request. To learn about ways you can help Operation FitKids, including sponsoring a fund-raiser or donating equipment, please contact Jeanne Dierickx at (800) 825-3636, ext. 757, or at jeanned@acefitness.org. All donations are tax-deductible. Financial donations may be sent to Operation FitKids, 5820 Oberlin Drive, Suite 102, San Diego, CA 92121-3787.