Dozens gather for RichmondFit 2.0 health initiative

By Kevin Spradlin

* Photo gallery

ROCKINGHAM — The first go ’round, it snowed at the inaugural RichmondFit in March. Today, it rained.

But just in the nick of time, the clouds went away and the sky was a vibrant blue to welcome some three dozen leaders and participants of RichmondFit 2.0. The official start is Sept. 22, but

Kevin Spradlin | Shareese Powell, public health educator with FirstHealth, leads a group of more than two dozen walkers around downtown Rockingham Wednesday evening.

Kevin Spradlin |
Shareese Powell, public health educator with FirstHealth, leads a group of more than two dozen walkers around downtown Rockingham Wednesday evening.

The event at Cole Plaza was hosted by the Richmond County First-In-Health 2020 Task Force to see whose employees can get fit in the RichmondFit – Ready, Set, Walk! challenge. All Richmond County businesses, nonprofits and government agencies are invited to join in the challenge aimed at improving the health of the entire community. Individuals unattached to any business or organization also can register.

Tommy Jarrell, director of the Richmond County Health Department, said the goal was to increase the number of businesses involved through this second venture compared to the first. That’s already been accomplished, Jarrell said.

New to 2.0 is the von Drehle Corporation, Lowe’s, Therafirm, Perdue,, Pee Dee Electric and Mt. Olive Baptist Church.

Latoya Davis, of Rockingham, works as an engineer operations assistant for Pee Dee Electric. She said she’s sorry she missed the first program and is hopeful her team can lure up to 20 co-workers. On Wednesday, though, she played the role of aunt and had nephews Janari Davis, 9, Taye Spencer, 9, and Damarien Johnson, 2, participate in the walk from Cole Plaza to Harrington Square and back, a distance of slightly less than 1 mile. Damarien had some help completing the distance. The walk was led by Shareese Powell, public health educator for FirstHealth.

“This program is all about trying to get us more physically fit,” Jarrell said. “We’re not the healthiest group around … I think most of us would agree we need all the help we can get.”

In the Spring version of the original RichmondFit, people completed a wide range of activities — from playing with their kids to grocery shopping, from working out at the gym to gardening — and then logged the duration of those activities into a personal account at Those activities, then, are converted into a number of steps based largely on duration and intensity of the activity.

Participants logged enough miles in the spring to travel 1.2 times around the globe, In this five-week program, Jarrell said the goal is two circle the earth two full times.

“Some might say, ‘I’m not a runner, walker or jogger,'” Jarrell said — and that’s alright. Raking, swimming, karate, bowling — all acceptable forms of activity.

“There are so many activities you can do,” Jarrell said.

Anyone who completes activities that equate to 150,000 steps will have their name put into a drawing for prizes. That might be a challenge for some, but not for Mike Threadgill, who works in quality control at Unimin Corporation in Marston.

“I can do that in three days,” he said to no one in particular as Jarrell spoke.

Threadgill has every reason to feel so confident. He was the overall champion of the RichmondFit 1.0. He logged activities equal to more than 2.5 million steps.

Co-worker and RichmondFit teammate Vivian Dell’Acqua, who works in quality control, safety and is environmental superintendent, shared Threadgill’s spirit of competition. She placed second overall, behind only Threadgill, with just more than 2.2 million steps.

Dell’Acqua suggested to FirstHealth’s Ellen Geanes that not only should the top team get a trophy, but also the individual winner. Geanes and Jarrell said they’ll consider it.

While many enter the event as a social venture, Dell’Acqua — who is involved in karate, kickboxing and walking — is out to retain her company’s No. 1 spot. Marathon runner and co-worker David McKay also plans to participate, she said.

With more companies involved this time around, “it looks like we’re going to have a lot more competition.”

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