Saturday morning, Hermiston High School overflowed with teddy bears and sushi rolls, hula hoops and tai chi as thousands of people came out for the second annual Family Health and Fitness Day.

“It was just incredible. We had about 3,000 people there, which is double what we had last year,” Juli Gregory, education director for Good Shepherd Medical Center, said Monday. “It seemed like there was a just a constant sea of people coming in, and everything went really smoothly. We had incredible support from the community, from all of our sponsors, so many volunteers. It was wonderful.”

At its debut in 2009, about 1,500 people attended the free event. Encouraged by its success, Family Health and Fitness coordinators — Good Shepherd Medical Center, The Wellness Coalition and Good Shepherd Community Health Foundation — brought in more activities and more information this year.

Among the new booths was the Portland Alcohol Research Center, which entertained children and adults with goggles designed to make the wearer appear under the influence.

“We’re here to introduce kids and people of all ages to the idea that alcohol changes your perception and how you react,” Mark Rutledge-Gorman said. “This is our first time here, and it’s going good. A lot of the kids, and even the adults, are surprised by how much the goggles alter their perception.”

As children tested their skills shooting hoops and walking a straight line with the goggles, parents, including Sara Curiel of Hermiston, looked on.

“They’re having a lot of fun, and that’s why we came here,” she said. “I think this event is great.”

The high school gym, lawn and hallways filled with activities for the day, from the Oregon Health & Science University’s “Let’s Get Healthy!” research exhibit to the popular “teddy bear clinic,” cooking demonstrations to a variety of dance and fitness classes.

Hermiston High School seniors and Stardust Dance Team members Laura Sanchez and Maryssa Whidman were among the crowd of student volunteers to work with classes and demonstrations. 

“Our coach told us about it, and we thought it sounded like a good idea,” Whidman said. “I think it’s good to encourage people to get out and get healthy, and not only to get in shape but also to get out and doing things in the community.”

Gregory said organizers do plan to offer the event again next year.


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