Student Brings Healthy Habits to More Kids with 5K Fundrasier
Thanks to an 18-year-old from Yardley, PA, Action for Healthy Kids can spread a love of health and fitness to more kids just like him. Through perseverance and ingenuity, Tim Ponento has raised over $6,000 for Action for Healthy Kids with just two 5K fun walks.
What led Tim to take on such an endeavor?
When he was going into middle school, Tim was overweight. At school, Tim found a passion for fitness and began to transform himself. He joined the wrestling and football teams and began lifting weights. He started making his own healthy meals and later got a job at a local Smoothie King, where he was happy to see they used real fruits and vegetables. Health and wellness became a huge part of Tim’s life, as well as the whole Ponento family, who goes walking, biking, swimming, and kayaking together.
As a high school sophomore, part of Tim’s job at Smoothie King involved planning charity events, which inspired him to plan his own charity event to help kids like him who had struggled with their weight. In 2016, Tim recruited the help of his older brother, Andrew. They chose Action for Healthy Kids as the recipient of their fundraiser because Tim loved how Action for Healthy Kids aims to reach kids in the classroom—and school is where Tim started his own health transformation.
The brothers encountered a few challenges in planning the event, but were never deterred from their goal. The biggest challenge was finding a host: both their school district and borough said insurance for a run would be too high. However, the borough suggested doing a 5K walk, which wouldn’t require as much insurance as a run. Tim did have to absorb some costs of the event, such as securing a handicap-accessible portable restroom, but he knew it would be worth it.
Securing sponsors by the due date posed another challenge. Many gave Tim noncommittal answers and didn’t return his messages. “It put a lot of stress on the whole process,” says Tim. “In order to convince these businesses to act, I gave them the opportunity to get their name on the back of the walk T-shirts if they donated a certain amount of money by a certain date. I was proud to have gotten as many sponsors as I did, and this challenge turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the whole process.”
To market the 5K, Tim asked the township, which holds a televised public meeting twice a month, if he could present about the walk at the meeting. Tim was also asked to do a local radio show, including one hosted by the mayor. He posted flyers everywhere and pounded the pavement across the community.
Over 150 people registered for the first Healthy Kids 5K Fun Walk, which also included stations manned by local businesses. A local farm even set up a table with healthy eating pamphlets, veggie samples, and animals to pet. Tim’s peers from Pennsbury High School’s National Honor Society volunteered to guide the walkers to keep them on the path and look out for their safety.
It was such a success that Tim planned the fundraiser again in 2017—only without the help of his brother, who was away at college.
Tim’s biggest piece of advice for those who want to create similar fundraising events is to start planning as early as possible and invite the community in to help as much as possible. This knowledge helped Tim secure things for the second year’s walk, like raffle baskets and the help of his sports teammates at the event.
While a huge storm dampened turnout the second year, Tim remains determined to keep the momentum going during his final year of high school. He wants to continue to spread the message that childhood health and fitness can set kids up for a more successful future, and he’s even considering other types of fundraising events.
Says Tim, “My focus was always in the positive contribution that could be made and how I could use my own life experience to improve the lives of children who are just like I was.”