Amy Fallis describes her son, Craig, as a big boy, but he wasn’t always that way. Craig was born prematurely one hot, August day in 2004. Now, at 12 years old, Craig is six-foot tall and about 200 pounds. Craig’s size caused his UnityPoint Health pediatrician concern.
“Craig’s pediatrician wanted to make sure we stayed on top Craig’s health to avoid the possible on-set of diabetes and to ensure Craig was eating well and exercising,” Amy Fallis says.
Craig’s doctor suggested he work with a UnityPoint Health Community Outreach Educator, Julia Richards Krapfl, to make some heart-healthy changes. Together, Julia and Craig sat down a decided to run at 5K.
“Craig picked a 5K that benefited veterans,” Amy said. “It’s an effort close to Craig’s heart because several of our family members have served in the military. Craig wanted to pick a race where the funds would go to a good cause.”
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Julia worked with Craig to develop a training schedule, based on the popular Couch to 5K plan, and Craig trained through the summer months to get ready for his September race.
“Craig doesn’t really enjoy running, and at 12-years-old, I didn’t either! There were days Craig struggled to get it done, but he did it,” Amy says.
Amy says the race was a mental challenge for her son and taught him the valuable lesson of achieving a task, if you put in the hard work. Julia and Amy also told Craig to wear the 5K T-shirt he got from the race to school the following Monday to showcase his accomplishment.
“The expression on his face when he crossed the finish line was awesome. He set a goal, and he accomplished it. Now, he knows what he’s capable of, if he believes in himself,” Amy says.
Amy says this experience helped Craig improve his health and gave him the foundation to make better choices about staying heart-healthy. She admits that Craig didn’t stick with running, as it wasn’t his favorite form of exercise. However, since his 5K, he’s worked to identify other modes of exercise that he prefers and is working to fit those into his weekly activities.
“In gym class, they do interval training, and he likes squats and burpees. So, Craig has started to implement some of those exercises at home when they don’t have PE class. He’s even found some videos on YouTube to help,” Amy says.
Craig knows the importance of finding an exercise you enjoy. As he continues to grow, he wants to continue finding the things he likes in order to keep make healthy choices.