THE MILLION CALORIE MARCH (2004)
AMERICA'S 1200 MILE OBESITY FIGHTING WALKING AND TALKING TOUR
"A shock and awe campaign"
That's how's Generation Excel Founder Gary Marino describes the first ever cross country walk to inspire, motivate and educate the American public on the greatest health crisis of our times.
On the heels of a 150 pound personal weight loss and after researching America's obesity epidemic, Marino strapped on his sneakers to walk from Florida all the way to his home state of Massachusetts. "We had runs and jogs and walks for all kinds of worthy causes but no one had ever done one for the obesity epidemic. Obesity needed a walk and I was passionate about creating it," he says.
Backed by a 4 person road crew and funded by funded by philanthropist Todd G. Patkin -the Million Calorie March quickly gained the sponsorship of corporations such as Sheraton Hotels, New Balance, Barnes & Nobles/I-Universe and Nashoba Valley Medical Center.
On April 6th 2004 with an estimated 10 million people watching - The March kicked off on live national television in front of an the campaign quickly captured the attention of millions of people in need of inspiration.
"The way I looked at it, whether we inspired 3 people to get healthy or 300,000 - it's all the same spark when your talking about peoples lives," says Marino.
Covered by local, state and national media alike - The Million Calorie March set the nation's Obesity epidemic before millions - from the first steps on "Live with Regis and Kelly" and "People Magazine" to its dramatic finish line on FOX News, USA Today and radio stations from coast to coast.
The March also made stops at health centers, YMCAs, media outlets and sponsor locations all aimed at motivating the American public to "dig deep" to build exercise and healthy eating into its lifestyle.
"The walk really put us on the front lines of the obesity fight and made us feel like we were affecting an issue nationally" says Assistant Road Manager Dan Jones.
In the end the campaign reached over 70 million people with its inspiring message of hope and raised over $150,000 to help fight obesity.
Looking back Marino says "Sometimes an event can become a movement and with the Million Calorie March I definitely feel like we helped to create a true movement"