By Shelley Murphy
Parents of high schoolers trying to crack the college admission code are all too familiar with these words: community service and volunteer hours.
As students start to consider their summer service options, National Volunteer Week falls on April 23-29, bringing awareness to the importance of volunteerism. Established in 1974 by a presidential proclamation, the annual event celebrates volunteers creating change in their communities and encourages others to take action.
San Clemente counts numerous inspirational change-makers as residents, including Cindi Juncal.
Juncal founded The Noble Path Foundation (TNPF) nonprofit corporation in 2012, and I jumped at the chance to become a volunteer board member. For the past five years, Juncal’s devoted her time, talent and tenacity to stressing the importance of raising “healthy kids for a healthy world.”
In observance of National Volunteer Week, I spoke with Juncal to shine a light on the TNPF and its High 5ive 4Fitness fundraiser at San Clemente High School on May 13.
Shelley Murphy: Why did you start TNPF?
Cindi Juncal: The childhood obesity crisis was looming large. It’s estimated that one out of three children will develop diabetes in their lifetimes. It’s imperative to do something to stop this trend; this deadly disease can not only be prevented with proper food choices but reversed as well.
Due to the nature of our current food supply, our children are getting sick and being afflicted with diseases that once only occurred in the elderly. This has created the first generation of kids in the history of the world not expected to have longer lifespans than their parents.
My goal in starting TNPF was to help kids become more health-conscious instead of self-conscious and hopefully put them on a path toward wellness. If just a few kids’ lives are forever changed in a positive and productive manner then everything we do at TNPF will have been worth it.”
SM: Who can attend the third annual fundraiser?
CJ: Our event focuses on creating a fun fitness day for the entire family. We’ll have sports challenges for everyone from kindergarteners to adults, and individuals will compete in their age group for prizes and awards. Some of the challenges include: passing accuracy in football, speed pitching in baseball, scoring penalty kicks in soccer and making free throw shots in basketball.
We also have a health and wellness fair, live entertainment, an expanded kid zone, a raffle, and silent auction featuring vacation getaways and a giant flatscreen television.
The highlight of the event is the epic Battle of the Gyms featuring the fittest athletes from the finest local fitness facilities going head-to-head in feats of strength, endurance, agility and speed and only one gym will reign supreme.
SM: How will funds raised at the event benefit TNPF?
CJ: All of the donations TNPF receives go back into the communities we serve to keep our nutrition and awareness programs free of charge. Soon we’ll introduce our Sugar-Free San Clemente week to raise awareness about the dangers of added sugars.
This year, in addition to raising funds to support TNPF, when participants register online they can choose the option to also fundraise for their school. We’ll give 50 percent of the amount an individual fundraises back to the school of their choice.
SM: What is the message of TNPF programs?
CJ: Our programs stress the importance of healthy food choices for a healthy life and that fitness is fun, not something to dread or avoid. We want kids to develop a lifelong addiction to movement, healthy eating and clean living.
The health and well-being of our future generations literally depends on what we put on the ends of our forks. Our motto is: Nothing you ever do for a child is wasted. So feed them good food and one day they might save the world.
SM: Why do you volunteer?
CJ: I never think of service as a sacrifice. For me, it feels more like a necessity just like eating, sleeping or breathing. I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to make a difference.
To attend or volunteer at the fundraiser, visit www.thenoblepathfoundation.org.