Official Newsletter of the President's Challenge


88 Year-Old Tony Percoco on Being Active For Life

Tony Percoco has earned Bronze, Silver, and Gold Presidential Champion medals-and he's halfway to securing the million points needed for Platinum. These are noteworthy accomplishments for any of us; Tony is 88! The World War II vet, who became involved with President's Challenge many years ago, is still riding his road bike and has cycled over 14,000 miles since starting to keep a log in 2003. He's done this by riding a 15 mile round trip loop between his community and the next. He gave up skiing only one year ago, as much because of the long drive and having no one to join him as the cold and feet and back aches it was causing. The aches and pains do not stop Tony and his wife, Vicki from going dancing once a month at their local Polish cultural center. While Vicki's COPD makes it difficult to do very fast dances, the couple still enjoys dancing the fox trot, rumba, meringue, a slow Lindy and a polka. They are also trying to master the tango with instructional videos. Tony finds swimming in his solar-heated swimming pool a comfortable way to stay fit and off his feet.

When asking yourself, "how does he do it?" one needs only to look back on Tony's life to see that he has never stopped moving. As a youngster before TV and computers, most of his days were spent playing in the streets. In high school, it was basketball. As a serviceman, he was not only an elite Navy Seal, but played on the Battalion basketbalI and volleyball teams. In college, it was more basketball. Most of his life, Tony kept fit by playing tennis, volleyball, and mowing the lawn. Vicki stayed active by teaching line dancing.

Since retirement twenty-five years ago, Tony and Vicki have stayed active by arranging and leading vacation tours. They've traveled to England, Ireland, Italy, France, Israel, Hawaii, and destinations closer to home like the Badlands, Cape Cod, Renfro Valley, Kentucky, and most states East of the Mississippi. When his wife wonders whether they should be quitting the trips, he says, "She probably right, but I enjoy the planning that enables people to enjoy the sights and sounds that are always present. She's very patient with me."

Tony eats a healthy breakfast, a smoothie at lunch time, and very little soda or bread. While he has given up ice cream, he does enjoy a small glass of wine with dinner. Here's to Tony's good health and to his excellent example. Salud!

Fit to Serve - The Iowa Team Fitness Model

Iowa President's Challenge Co-Coordinators Ed Thomas and Valerie Unkrich have integrated the President's Challenge into an inclusive performance-based physical literacy program called Iowa Team Fitness. It borrows heavily from the concepts embedded in John F. Kennedy's model of classical physical training fueled by service to our nation.

"The declining physical vitality of our children and youth threatens our national security, productivity, and cultural evolution," said Unkrich. "Iowa Team Fitness and the President's Challenge have inspired many of our physical education teachers to reflect on the purpose of President's Council and reshape our programs to align with the vision Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy had for our national physical culture."

Iowa Team Fitness prepares students to teach and lead group and individual performance-based physical literacy skills using a wide variety of familiar training tools including medicine balls, weighted bars, agility ladders, kettle bells and ropes. Disciplined on-the-ground training allows students to train safely off-the-ground and in aquatic environments.

Video technology is used for assessment, instruction and motivation. "If we teach our children to move well, we will not have to encourage them to move often," said Thomas.

Advocate of the Month

Jump Bunch of Lincoln, NE

Jump Bunch Logo JumpBunch of Lincoln, Nebraska is one of numerous local JumpBunch franchises around the country. The mobile sports and fitness program was founded sixteen years ago in Annapolis, Maryland to instill the love of sports and fitness activities through age appropriate, fun, safe, and structured lessons. JumpBunch brings over 70 carefully researched and developed sports, fitness activities, music, and all necessary equipment to children ages 2 through 13 years old. Kat Baum, who owns JumpBunch of Lincoln was inspired to start a JumpBunch franchise because while she enjoys an active lifestyle and keeps fit, she does not like competitive sports. She wanted to spread the message to parents and children that plenty of non-competitive sports options are available for children to stay active and healthy. "Not all children are interested in being the next athletic star. I let the children choose what they like. They are more likely to participate and keep the habits longer if it's a fitness program that they enjoy," Kat says.

Kat incorporates the Presidential Challenge into her afterschool club at Elementary schools as a way to keep kids motivated toward their physical activity and nutrition goals. Recently, the mom of one of her 5 year old students called to say that her son was so excited and motivate to earn the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award; the program was keeping him on task, giving him a sense of accomplishment and accountability.