Healthy eating at forefront of Saturday event

PORT TOWNSEND — During Saturday’s inaugural “Fun Raiser” for the Fariborz Youssefirad Memorial Health Scholarship, children and their parents will hear about the benefits of healthful eating.

Music, a ninja course and a performance by members of Twisters gymnastics of Port Hadlock are part of the celebration. As for education, “picky eaters” coach Gina Diamond and Robin Sharan, who authored a book on liver and gall bladder health, will offer tips. Also planned is a raffle with 27 prizes donated by local businesses, organizations and individuals.

Plus healthy foods will be offered for snacks.

The event is scheduled from noon to 3:30 p.m. at the Cotton Building, 607 Water St.

Retired pediatrician Kees Kolff will serve as master of ceremonies, and John Nowak, executive director of the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) program at Jefferson Healthcare hospital, will lead the award ceremony to honor Ameila Kauzlarich, the winner of the Ending Type 2 Diabetes license plate design competition.

The special issue Washington state license plate is the major fundraiser for the organization. Sales will fund student programs focused on diabetes prevention and lifestyle. Scholarships are planned to be awarded to local high school seniors or college students in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.

Vanity plates cost $60 to $100, depending upon the size of the vehicle. Kauzlarich’s winning design features various fruits and vegetables encircling the globe.

Marie Youssefirad, whose husband, Fariborz, died of complications of diabetes, is the nonprofit’s founder.

Fariborz had asked her to bring attention to Type 2 diabetes in children when he was ill in a Seattle hospital.

He died just before Christmas in 2014 at 58 years old.

“Fariborz said ‘I don’t want anyone else to suffer the way I suffered,’ ” Youssefirad said. “Whatever we can do to change that, we should do it. And right there I promised him.”

She said it took a three-day conversation to decide what to do. Her heartbreak lead her drive to bring diabetes awareness and education to youth in the community.

“As a retired pediatrician, the whole issue of childhood obesity and the epidemic of diabetes caused by some of our lifestyle issues is near and dear to my heart,” Kolff said. “If I can support her in some way, I’d like to do it.”

Kolff said he welcomes programs that address the problem, particularly for people in childhood, where many lifestyle habits get started.

“The more we can address the problem when it’s still possible to have an impact, the better,” he said.

Kolff noted that school programs at the Jefferson County Public Health Department are done through health educators. He said the 5210 program focuses on these numbers to live by each day: five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, two hours or less of recreational screen time, one hour or more of physical activity and and no sugary drinks.

“It’s remarkable to me how much one person can do when they are truly passionate about what they are doing,” he said.

“Given Marie’s experience with her husband and her promise to him, my hat’s off to her work.”

For more information about Saturday’s event and the organization, contact www.fymhs.org.

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Jefferson County Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at jmcmacken@peninsuladailynews.com.

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