Categorized | Featured, Multi-sport, Sports

Ironman 2014: Keiki Dip-n-Dash

High five from Dr. Health E. Hound.

High five from Dr. Health E. Hound.

(Hawaii 24/7 photography by Karin Stanton)

Hawaii 24/7 Staff

Several hundreds budding triathletes gathered Tuesday afternoon on the official Ironman start line for their chance to earn a coveted finishers’ medal.

UnitedHealthcare and Ironkids teamed up with Kamaaina Kids, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving children and their families, to give young people the opportunity to become “Ironkids” and compete on the same course as world-class athletes participating in Saturday’s Ironman World Championship.

The UnitedHealthcare Ironkids Keiki Dip-n-Dash took place at Kailua Pier with hundreds of kids ages 5 to 15 from the Big Island and around the world participating in the fun, energetic quarter-mile swim and run biathlon designed for young “triathletes to be.”

UnitedHealthcare mascot Dr. Health E. Hound and Ironman athletes led the kids in warm-up exercises and were at the starting line to kick off the Dip-n-Dash.

Local families, community leaders, UnitedHealthcare employees, Ironman athletes and supporters lined the course to cheer on the young athletes in their quest to become “Ironkids.”

Each participant received a race bib, Ironkids T-shirt and an Ironkids championship medal as they crossed the finish line.

Dip-n-Dash emcee and 1994 world champion Greg Welch was at the finish line and interviewed some of the little champions.

“This is awesome, just brilliant to see how many kids are coming out,” he said. “Gets bigger every year.”

Following the Dip-n-Dash, the Ironkids helped lead the Ironman Parade of Nations to help kick off the Ironman World Championship events.

This is the first year UnitedHealthcare sponsored the Keiki Dip-n-Dash, teaming up with Kamaaina Kids to provide free registrations so that youth could experience the thrill of the Ironman competition.

UnitedHealthcare and Ironkids sponsored a training session for Kamaaina Kids youth participating in the Dip-n-Dash the day before the big race, where they learned about the importance of exercise and healthy eating, and trained with Ironman athletes and Dr. Hound in preparation for Tuesday’s event.

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UnitedHealthcare also made a $3,000 donation to Kamaaina Kids during the kickoff ceremony to support the nonprofit’s youth health programs.

Barbara Dalton, the Governor’s Representative for West Hawaii, Rep. Cindy Evans, Rep. Nicole Lowen and County Council member Karen Eoff participated in the presentation and offered encouraging words to the young people before the race.

“The Ironkids Dip-n-Dash is a great way for children and families in Kona to enhance their health and well-being and be part of the Ironman events,” said Ron Fujimoto, D.O., chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Hawaii. “We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Kamaaina Kids to support its youth programs and help inspire young people in our community to be active and stay healthy.”

“We thank UnitedHealthcare for its support and appreciate the opportunity for our local youth to be part of this fun, exciting Ironkids event,” said Mark Nishiyama, vice president, Kamaaina Kids. “We always reinforce the importance of healthy living to our kids and this Dip-n-Dash is a great way to directly connect that message.

UnitedHealthcare’s sponsorship of Ironkids is part of the company’s commitment to help stem the rising tide of childhood obesity by promoting healthy lifestyles among the youth. Obesity among children and adolescents has almost tripled since 1980, with nearly one in three children being overweight or obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The UnitedHealthcare Ironkids 2014 North America Running Series features nine one-mile Fun Runs and a Dip-n-Dash, as well as music and health expos, and the opportunity to watch Ironman and Ironman 70.3 events with hundreds of spectators.

“We are thrilled to have UnitedHealthcare team up with Ironkids in Hawaii to sponsor this youth event and others across the country as part of our Ironman series,” said Carola Ross, chief sales officer, Ironman North America. “The opportunity these events give children in these communities is tremendous, as these races can be the catalyst for a lifetime of exercise and healthy living.”

— Find out more:
www.ironkids.com.
www.kamaainakids.com
www.uhc.com

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