Official Newsletter of the President's Challenge


Participant Spotlight

Pam Olsen and Mir Plemmons Recover from Cancer with Presidents Challenge

Mir Plemmons, from Washington State learned about President's Challenge from Scouting Magazine. Pam Olsen, from Idaho learned about President's Challenge from watching the Biggest Loser. Both have been recovering from cancer and the effects of chemotherapy over the past couple of years. The drugs-while working to kill the cancers cells-also are creating havoc on the body's healthy cells. Pam experienced treatment-induced osteoporosis and Mir suffered from chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. Pam and Mir's issues associated with cancer are vast but their stories towards recovery are inspirational.

To help build her bones and stay strong, Pam worked out a weight bearing exercise program focusing on her lower body three times a week and her upper body on alternate days. She used a combination of professional exercise routine and some exercises from her physical therapist. There are a wide-range of weight bearing exercises to choose from using the personal tracker on the President's Challenge website. They are thai chi, yoga, dancing, golf, stair climbing, aerobics, racquet sports, strength training, brisk walking, and running.

While Pam logged 15,000 points in the first two months after seeing the Biggest Loser, she expects to record more and more points as she continues her strength training. Because over-exercise can exhaust the adrenals and damage the immune system, however, the important thing will be to increase very gradually, so as to not over-stress her system and risk reactivating her cancer. Additionally, maintaining a good diet is critical for staying healthy. Pam learned that the best diet for preventing cancer, or recurrence, includes choosing consuming whole, natural foods rather than the processed and sugary foods. The exercise is not only helping her bones, but it also helps her regain muscle after months of fatigue and rest. She is thrilled to be out enjoying life again-in her garden and on a recent trip to Switzerland, where she hiked 5 miles a day.

Mir found the President's Challenge helpful because out of all the online work-out tracking options, it was the only one that included real-world activities and household tasks and compared them with more formal exercise. Spending a significant time at home, he wanted his house to look good. As a result, he started a series of home remodeling projects. Mir worked through a variety of projects including, raising a floor, tiling a bathroom and installing a countertop. Mir learned how to maneuver through problems, which helped him rebuild brain function-as he strategized and planned out the steps of each project. His endurance, coordination, memory, and confidence all improved as he tracked his progress online and watched his home transform. Despite challenging times, the President's Challenge served as a motivator, helped him develop new skills and improved his overall health.

Advocate of the Month

Circus Fit

The spectacular circus performers at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® are also accomplished athletes who need to be in top physical condition, making them ideal "real life" role models who can encourage young people to be active and fit. Through the CircusFit national youth fitness program the Ringling Bros. acrobats, clowns, high wire and trapeze artists help show youth an awe-inspiring and action-packed approach to health and fitness - motivating them to move with games and activities that are more play than work. The program encourages America's youth to lead healthy, active lifestyles by combining the fun of circus skills with stretching, strength building and aerobic exercise. Ringling Bros. CircusFit Program also provides educators, youth group leaders and parents with an easy-to-follow, flexible structure. A variety of implementation options can be customized to a wide range of group sizes, funding or scheduling constraints. Each CircusFit Lesson takes about 20 minutes and lesson tools can be made with readily available materials, such as plastic drink bottles or jump ropes. Celebrate National Humor month by checking out fun and unique ways to stay active with CircusFit.