FORMER 397-POUND MAN TO WALK 600 MILES FOR OBESITY AWARENESS
GARY MARINO TO MARSHAL THE MILLION STEP MARCH IN NORTH CAROLINA
ASHEVILLE, NC, Thursday, March 20, 2008 - What do walking 600 miles, giant inflatable theaters and mobile truck tours have in common? They are all part of health crusader Gary Marino's latest effort to inspire the American public.
In 2004, when our nation's healthcare experts called for a national campaign to battle our country's obesity epidemic it was former 397-pound Massachusetts native Gary Marino who created and walked The Million Calorie March, a 1200-mile weight loss walk from Jacksonville, Florida to Boston, Massachusetts. After receiving national attention for walking up the eastern seaboard (spreading obesity awareness), Marino was contacted by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Pennsylvania to spearhead The Million Pound Meltdown, a two-year county-by-county obesity awareness campaign in Pennsylvania that resulted in over 52,000 pounds lost to date.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is now teaming up with Gary Marino for The Million Step March, a 600-mile walking campaign throughout North Carolina. "When our company first learned of Gary's story we were certainly inspired…inspired enough to recreate his greatest accomplishment - 2004's "Million Calorie March" - as a walking campaign for our state" In addition to serving as spokesman for the Million Step March, Marino's Generation Excel Foundation will help produce, and consult for the campaign.
Marino, Higgins and The Million Step March team will begin the 2-month trek from Asheville to Wilmington on April 1st making stops along the way at health centers, community events and corporations to inspire North Carolinians to build physical activity into their daily routine, bring them advice about healthy eating, and motivate them to begin the journey towards a healthier lifestyle. The health and wellness campaign is BCBSNC's newest statewide initiative focused on the promotion of walking, physical activity and good nutrition.
Following Marino on his 600-mile journey throughout North Carolina will be a caravan of mobile trucks providing Gary and the BCBSNC team with the ability to set up mobile events at more than 60 stops along the walk route. One of those events will be cooking demonstrations with Gary inside a full-kitchen to promote healthy cooking to North Carolinians. Also following Gary on the road will be an inflatable 70-seat Shoebox Theatre, with a giant sneaker protruding from the top that will showcase guest speakers as well as Marino's documentary film the Million Calorie March. Also part of the mobile truck unit is an interactive attraction called, "The Workplace of the Future," featuring state-of-the-art treadmills and advanced computer systems on the road for people who will be logging onto the campaign website to make their commitment to participate in The Million Step Pedometer Challenge. North Carolinians will be encouraged to participate in the challenge by signing up online at www.BetterHealthNC.com. They simply log onto the site weekly to enter the number of steps they've taken or the distance they've walked. Each week as people enter their steps/distance, they will be entered into a drawing for incredible prizes. After a ten-week period, all steps and distance will be aggregated into a cumulative total for North Carolina. The winners will be announced at the final event in June.
"Blue Cross of North Carolina has teamed up with Generation Excel to create an unprecedented effort in the state. I hope North Carolinians will take the first step towards living a healthier lifestyle by joining the Million Step March," said Marino. Gary, who just five years ago lost 150-pounds through healthy eating, rigorous exercise and therapy to examine a 25-year eating disorder, is no stranger to leading obesity awareness campaigns. In 2004, Marino, created the Million Calorie March, America's first ever weight-loss walk for obesity from Jacksonville, Florida to Boston, Massachusetts. With financial support from his friend Todd G. Patkin (a Boston-based philanthropist and businessman), and backed up by a mobile road team and camera crew, Marino walked through 12 states including Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
The 1200-mile cross-country awareness campaign and fundraiser raised $150,000 for Generation Excel, the non-profit organization Marino founded to combat childhood obesity. The walk, which kicked off on ABC's "Live with Regis and Kelly," garnered publicity on Fox News, in People Magazine, USA Today, on CBS radio and countless other media outlets reaching over 70 million people.
In the spring of 2005, Marino completed the 109th running of the Boston Marathon and his 254-page memoir Big and Tall Chronicles: Misadventures of a Lifelong food Addict, was released nationally at Barnes & Nobles Bookstores. Gary, using recreated scenes from his book and interviews with friends, family, his nutritionist, therapist, fitness trainer and others, produced a documentary film called, Million Calorie March, which was completed in September 2007. The film chronicles Gary's 1200-mile walk from Florida to Massachusetts and educates and inspires the American public on the obesity epidemic in this country. The Million Calorie March film has received rave reviews from national critics like Joyce Kulhawick, who calls the film "entertaining, engaging and inspiring". The film is set for it's Southern US premiere May 17th and 18th at the Jacksonville Film Festival.
In addition to walking the Million Step March from April - June 2008, Gary has numerous speaking engagements across the country and is also busy shopping his documentary film, Million Calorie March to Cable and TV networks.
Generation Excel is a nonprofit organization that seeks to educate adults and youth about the health and emotional effects of obesity. The foundation produces awareness campaigns and raises funds to support obesity education efforts such as fitness programs for kids and an educational weight control DVD for parents. For more information about Gary Marino, The Million Step March the Million Calorie March, or Generation Excel please visit www.millioncaloriemarch.com.
BCBSNC and Generation Excel are not affiliated companies.
Million Step March Official Website
Gary's Campaign Promise
Photos from the Road
Gary's Journals from the Road
Gary Interviewed by Henry Hinton