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Walking Success Story - Chubby Boy to Elite Athlete

Alex Chave Before Weight Loss
Alex Chavez Competing for the USA

To say obesity and the litany of associated diseases are a major threat to the health and wellbeing of the USA cannot be understated. While the statistic that 1/3rd of American adults are obese might not come as a surprise, the fact that 17% of American youth are already obese should signal the alarm. Unfortunately, bad habits are often passed down, now at even younger and younger ages. This was the case for 10 year old Alex Chavez of Pharr, Texas.

When Alex was younger he did not get any encouragement from his parents to play sports or be active. As role models, they didn’t set the best example. His mother was diabetic and his father had issues with his heart. Sadly, his brother did not escape this fate and at 25 developed adult onset diabetes. Alex probably would have suffered the same fate if not for the intervention from a strange source, the town’s former mayor, and coach AC Jamie. An exercise enthusiast, AC spearheaded the youth walking movement in South Texas.  Alex’s chance meeting came during an outreach when Coach Jaime visited various elementary schools in an attempt to get the youth moving by teaching them how to race walk.

At first Alex showed up just once a week. A self-described “chubby, shy boy,” Alex couldn’t master the technique of the sport he had never heard of before the chance visit to his school.  Coach Jaime wisely encouraged Alex to come and just hike, 45 minutes at a time, around the track. It wasn’t long before Alex improved and was encouraged him to come more frequently. Success begot more success and Alex was soon motoring around the track with the more efficient gait of a race walker.

As the weeks turned into months, and the months progressed past a year or two Alex shed his baby fat in a gradual healthy way. Upon returned to his doctor, she was pleasantly surprised in Alex’s transformation. Alex claims that he didn’t notice the weight loss, but those around him did. Alex went from being a shy boy with a lack of confidence and transformed into a confident, trim racing machine. He credits race walking as “the best thing that ever happened to me.” Competing on two World Cup teams as part of the Junior division, Alex visited Mexico and Russia as well as many cities across the USA.

More importantly, Alex’s success on the track has spread to his non-athletic life. Crediting Coach Jaime with teaching him about life and leadership, he is no longer the shy, self-conscious boy who is unsure of himself. Instead, the challenges of succeeding on the track have pushed him to strive for greater success academically. He is currently attending Missouri Baptist University on a track and field scholarship where he will continue to race walk.

His coach Tim Seaman, a 44-time national champion, knows what it means to compete at an elite level. Seaman, like Coach Jaime, watched the transformation of Alex into a superstar. More importantly, Seaman recognizes Alex’s “heart of gold.” Seaman credits Alex with not only a dedication “to go the extra mile to better his own athleticism,” but also to give back and help the younger kids coming up through the ranks after him.

Alex is currently stepping up into the big leagues and is preparing for his first 20km (12.4 miles) race in hopes to qualify for the Pan Am Cup team. He target is to break under the hour and a half mark, which is faster than many runners can complete the distance.

Do you have inactive children? Perhaps a walk, hike or race walk is in order to get them moving toward a healthier life as Alex has.

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