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Be Well Walk aims to get people moving

Dell Foundation hopes to curb childhood obesity by encouraging walking

Pam LeBlanc
pleblanc@statesman.com
Susan Dell is encouraging people to raise money for local nonprofits at the Be Well Walk, sponsored by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, of which she is the chairwoman.

You don't need expensive equipment or fancy energy bars to get fit. Start by just walking out the door for a stroll, powered by a piece of fruit and a swig of water.

That's the message Susan Dell, co-founder and chairwoman of the board of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, wants to impart at this weekend's Be Well Walk.

The 3.65-mile group walk, scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday at Longhorn Shores on Lady Bird Lake, will raise money for 15 local nonprofits that share the foundation's mission of curbing childhood obesity through increased physical activity and improved diet.

About one-third of American children and teenagers are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To combat that trend, kids should move more, cut out high-fat and high-sugar foods, quit drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, eat more fruits and vegetables and decrease the amount of time they spend looking at computer and television screens, it says.

One way to do that? Walking.

"The answer is simple, and simple is easy," Dell says. "You get up, go out the door and start walking."

It's a philosophy Dell has long heeded. An avid runner and long-distance cyclist, she is doing more walking these days. Even on the job, she keeps moving, standing or walking on a treadmill when working on her computer and conducting interviews while walking.

"I will always exercise — it's what I do," says Dell, 47, who finished an IronMan triathlon in 2003. "Walking is a fantastic activity. You don't have to run."

Proceeds from Sunday's walk will benefit the local nonprofits ACTIVE Life, Austin Sunshine Camps, Born to Run, Camp Fire USA Balcones Council, Explore Austin, Lone Star Circle of Care, Marathon Kids, Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living/CATCH, People's Community Clinic, Sustainable Food Center, Texas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity, the Trail Foundation, Westcave Preserve, Whole Kids Foundation and YMCA of Austin.

Each group is responsible for raising $5,000, registering 100 walkers and having them cross the finish line. If the organization meets its goal, it receives a matching $5,000 donation from the Dell Foundation.

Individuals can join, too. Registration is $25, and participants get to choose which of the partnering organizations benefits. The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation will match that — as long as the person registered completes the walk.

The goal is to raise $200,000 for Central Texas nonprofits.

The Dell Foundation plans to expand the event to cities across the country in the next few years.

pleblanc@statesman.com; 445-3994

For more information about the Be Well Walk or to register, go to www.bewellwalk.org . Packet pickup is 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at RunTex, 422 W. Riverside Drive, or 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Longhorn Shores, across the street from Krieg Fields, 200 S. Pleasant Valley Drive.