This past week, Kirk and I travelled to northern California to visit the offices of Project Fit America and to gather with others from across the country in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the organization and its founder, Stacey Cook. Project Fit America has at its core the desire to work with communities to find funding for gym equipment, teacher training and the resources needed to get kids fit and create a healthier lifestyle. But, the people that we met and the experiences that we shared with Stacy and these team members were so incredible that Kirk and I are both changed forever. But, I guess I should have known that this would be the case.
My wish for Project Fit America and Stacey and all of those who do PFA work in this country is that they will continue to receive grants to continue and expand their programs to more schools. I pray that there will be those who will take a look at the work being done by PFA and do what they can to help those schools most in need of financial assistance in order to create healthier lives for all students, not just those who have enough financial resources already available to them.Barbara Jacoby
Our connection to PFA is as unique as one can imagine. Initially, Kirk connected with PFA and Stacey on his own websites. At what appears to be about the same time, I was contacted by a gentleman by the name of Steve Cox who shared with me the story about his wife, Cyndee, who at that time was already a 46-year cancer survivor with breast cancer being just one of five cancers that she has battled. I was so inspired by their story that I had to write a blog about this special couple. It was also at this time that I learned that Steve was the National In-Service Director for Project Fit America and Stacey had already written a blog for the PFA website about Cyndee’s journey that I incorporated into my blog. Three days later, Stacey contacted me to thank me for the piece that I had written and thus began a friendship and interaction that has continued to evolve in ways that I could never have imagined over the next 3+ years. Therefore, when I had the opportunity to meet Steve and Cyndee in person at this celebration, I was almost overwhelmed with emotion in that moment but then I guess I should have known that this would be the case.
I can’t begin to tell you the impact that each of Stacey’s guests had on Kirk and me. These are teachers and staff and other professionals who not only have a tremendous impact on the students with whom they interact but also upon each other. They have all gone above and beyond a daily job to give to schools in ways that I could never have imagined. For instance, we shared “picklesicles” at the gathering and couldn’t believe the evolution of this creation. I learned that one of the teachers there makes them – pickle juice frozen in ice cube trays with a toothpick inserted – and that they are sold in order to raise money to buy toilet paper for the school in which she works. But then, I guess I should have known for each of these very special people who are part of the PFA programs is as special as is their founder, Stacey. And for those who were attending the celebration with their spouses, as Kirk and I were fortunate enough to be able to do, it was easy to see how these great professionals are able to do their exceptional work because of the fantastic support they receive at home.
How does one thank Stacey and her team for what they have done over the last 25 years? How can we begin to let them know how grateful we are for helping the children to live healthier lives by providing them not only with the gym equipment that their communities cannot afford but also with an entire program that maximizes training and learning in all aspects of their lives? If you ask them, they would tell you that they don’t need any thanks because they have also been forever changed by having the opportunity to do the work that they do but I guess I should have known that. Those who are a part of PFA have the opportunity to contribute to communities across this land by giving back and the level at which these people do so is so far above and beyond what most can imagine.
My wish for Project Fit America and Stacey and all of those who do PFA work in this country is that they will continue to receive grants to continue and expand their programs to more schools. I pray that there will be those who will take a look at the work being done by PFA and do what they can to help those schools most in need of financial assistance in order to create healthier lives for all students, not just those who have enough financial resources already available to them. I hope that we all do whatever we can to always support all students in their efforts to be the best that they can be on both a physical and mental level. And I have a dream that the next 25 years of Project Fit America will exceed every single expectation that I could possibly have for their success. And as I continue to follow the work of PFA in the future, I hope that I will always be able to say that I guess I should have known as their reach always continues to exceed their grasp.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.