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March/April 2012

Taking the first step with help from trainer Laurie Cunningham and Shatze

You just have to take the first step.

I have been a competitive equestrian since I was 9. I rode hunters and jumpers and would clear fences with grace, stamina and enthusiasm. In my teens, I competed internationally and my first trip to the desert was to show at HITS.

But in my early 30’s, I was in an accident (not horse related) that instilled a fear in me and hindered my ability to enjoy the sport I have always loved. I still rode, but took a break from jumping justifying that I would easily return to it ‘one day soon.’

Before I knew it, ten years had passed and I just never took the time to do it again. There was always a reason, and “my bones are getting old” seemed to lead that charge. I made a pact with myself to jump again for my 45th birthday. That was two years ago.

Then in January, I had the honor of attending the Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters conference. A recurring message among their incredible speakers —from celebrities to moms to inspiring young adults still in school–was that change is possible, and it starts with each and every one of us.

Whether you like or dislike Clinton, you have to respect that he is making a difference in global health. We are incredibly lucky to have his Foundation bring their initiative, Activating Wellness in Every Generation, to the desert. Their eight- year commitment shows a vested interest and allows us time to create and implement programs, and to track success.

But it can’t be something we simply read about in the paper once a year. It must take roots locally in our schools, local governments, and communities. And it starts with each and every one of us.

That is the message in our lead feature. Individually we can and should contribute to making our community a healthier place–for ourselves, for each other, and for the next generation.

So with the help of local trainer, Laurie Cunningham of Tahquitz Equestrian Facility, I jumped my first jump in 12 years. OK…it was only a 1’ cross rail, but I DID it! Tackling this personal hurdle was one of the most gratifying accomplishments I have achieved in a while. It helped bring back my “anything’s possible” attitude.

Now there are more goals on my plate (including jumping higher fences!)

With the help of Palm Springs Unified School District board member, Gary Jeandron, I put the Clinton Foundation’s Alliance for a Healthier Generation in touch with our school district superintendents to hopefully incorporate Clinton’s Healthy Schools program here in the desert.

Each of us can make a difference. When you take the first step to conquer your own fears, hurdles or roadblocks, it will encourage and inspire you to reach out and do the same for others. You just have to take that first step!

Cheers to your health,

Lauren Del Sarto

Lauren Del Sarto

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