On April 15, the focus was on health, nutrition, and entrepreneurship at The Steward School. Health Warrior, the locally-founded company with chia seeds and the #1-selling Chia Bar at its core, spearheaded a day of health-related information on campus.
Health Warrior day at Steward started off with a bang—ultramarathoner Zoë Romano brought the Middle and Upper School crowd to its feet after her morning talk. As a twenty-something, Ms. Romano is relatable for them—not to mention inspirational. “She was by far my favorite speaker,” said seventh-grader Erik Engelke. His classmate Dabney Leverty added, “She made me want to try something new.”
Ms. Romano is pretty unbelievable. She is the only person ever to have run unsupported across the U.S. (2011) and the only person to have run the Tour de France course (2013). She completed both runs not only as personal quests but also as fundraising ventures, first for Boys & Girls Clubs of America and secondly for World Pediatric Project (WPP).
Her talk with the students focused on her 72-day Tour de France run, during which she ran 2,000 miles (30 per day and an astonishing 90 miles on the final day) and raised $200,000 for WPP. Using footage from the documentary "Zoë Goes Running
," she talked about her fear of dogs and other animals and how she encountered wild boar on her run, running in 24 straight days of rain, tackling 100,000 feet of total elevation in ten weeks, and the sun poisoning, bruises, and blood that accompanied her French mission. Ms. Romano ultimately used all of this information to say, “You go on to discover what’s on the other side of impossible” and that “the intangible stuff needed to accomplish goals is already inside of us.”
She asked the students if they had ever had “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” moments, which became somewhat of a theme throughout her discussion. She says she wanted to be an “old school explorer” when she was a child, and she didn’t “fall in love” with running until her sophomore year at the University of Richmond. In addition to her “day job” as a writer—she is set to begin graduate coursework in writing—Ms. Romano is a spokesperson for Health Warrior. The company provided her with food during her French run; she says she was “fueled by chia seeds.”
Junior Ashley McCreary was thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce Ms. Romano to the audience. For the past two years, Ashley has raised money for World Pediatric Project, and she is a stellar runner on Steward’s cross-country team. About meeting one of her idols, Ashley said, “It was so special for me to meet Zoë and introduce her to the Steward community. Her running achievements and philanthropy are two areas that mean so much to me. Her desire, determination, and willingness to push through uncomfortable situations really stood out to me. Having a role model like Zoë encourages me to step out of the box, work hard, and think of others along the way. I hope to get her back in the fall for a few cross-country practices!”
Throughout the day, Relay Foods conducted food demonstrations with students of all ages. From banana pizza and black bean nachos, to chia seed smoothies, students were introduced to healthy foods. Meriwether Godsey, Edible Education, Pizza Tonight and Shalom Farms joined Relay with food-related fun during the evening.
To wrap up the day’s events, CEO and co-founder of Health Warrior Shane Emmett shared his story behind the #1-selling Chia Bar and the company’s success since its launch. Mr. Emmett started his lecture with some startling statistics. “More than 70 percent of the American diet consists of packaged food, and that number is only going to grow,” he said. “Our goal is to fix packaged food. Modern life is not slowing down. To make genuine progress, our food needs to adapt to this new and increasing pace.”
Mr. Emmett explained Health Warrior’s commitment to using real ingredients in its bars, keeping nutrients high and sugar low. “Some competitors’ bars have more than 20 grams of sugar—that’s more than a candy bar. Unless you’re competing in Ironman Triathlons, that’s way too much sugar for the average person to process in one day.”
Mr. Emmett went on to explain the superfood powers of the chia seed—they are packed with Omega-3, protein, magnesium, and fiber. Tarahumara Indians and Aztec warriors were just two of the groups that relied on the seeds to give their bodies fuel. In fact, the chia seed was such a powerful food source that the Spaniards wiped out crops in attempts to kill off their enemies. Chia seeds are hydrophilic, meaning they absorb up to 12 times their weight in water, which keeps people hydrated and fuller longer. The chia seed was the main food source in the Western Hemisphere for 2,000 years, and Mr. Emmett and his team at Health Warrior believe it’s time to bring back more superfoods so everyone can be a warrior.