Getting Cayman’s children fitter and slimmer is a recurring topic at the moment so a local teacher should be congratulated for taking the initiative to get her kids to raise funds to bring over someone who dedicates his life to improving the health of youngsters wherever he goes.
Claire Hughes, PE teacher at First Baptist Christian School, will from Wednesday be hosting Paul Staso who is the founder and president of the Promoting Active Children Everywhere Fitness Foundation, aka PACE Trek.
He started Pace Trek in 2006 when Staso, then 41, a former elementary school teacher, challenged his fourth and fifth grade students at Russell Elementary School in Missoula, Montana to an unusual race.
The challenge was to virtually run the length of the US in one year by adding up their combined running and walking across the 3,200-mile distance. His wife is the PE teacher there and their daughter, Ashlin, was a fifth grader at the time.
Well they did it. Both classes finished before the end of the school year and Staso did it solo, all 3,260 miles of it, pushing an 80lb jogging stroller loaded with food, water, clothes, a tent, sleeping bag and solar panel to power his camera and GPS.
On the way he stopped to give talks and assemblies to children to encourage them to set goals for themselves, to be positive and to look after their bodies. “I became only the fifth person in history to run solo across the United States,” said Staso.
Since then Paul has encouraged thousands of children worldwide to be active by setting up a PACE Trek in different places, including Alaska, Montana and Germany.
He runs an online classroom so not only can children log their miles and see what other schools are doing, they can learn about the places Staso runs and about healthy living.
Children at First Baptist Christian School joined him in 2009 when he ran 500 miles through Alaska in three weeks.
“Pace Trek has really touched our students,” said coach Hughes who is no slouch herself, having taken part in the tough Off The Beaten Track trail race last month. “They loved PACE Trek and I was amazed that they were so excited about running and walking laps.
“We logged our miles and they went online and left Paul a message in his guest book. He replied to tell them how proud he was of such a small school joining him.
Last year we did PACE Trek Germany and the children once again ran 500 miles with Paul as he battled the bad weather there.
“This year Paul is set to run 506 miles through the Mojave desert in California in 17 days next month.
When I found out he was training in the snow and cold in his hometown of Missoula, I emailed him and joked that he should come to Cayman to train where it was warmer and give an assembly to our students.
“He said he’d love to but that PACE was a charity and that if we could arrange a flight for him he would come. We did a roll-a-thon fundraiser where the children had to skate, bike, scoot or walk laps and we are very excited to meet him and hear all about his adventures.”
Staso, 46, a father of four, spends his time on PACE Trek which is now a registered charity and also owns a corporate web development company.
Whilst he is in Cayman he is giving assemblies to First Baptist Christian School, Hope Academy, Triple C and Montessori by the Sea.
He wants to encourage other schools to sign up for PACE Trek which is free to enter and he is available to give assemblies to schools on Friday 18 and Monday 21 March.
Contact Claire Hughes to sign up at [email protected] or go to www.pacetrek.com for more information.