Get Fit Be Strong tour visits Bliss: Buddy Lee and his team promote fitness, seek to inspire!

Buddy Lee motivates children before teaching them the basics of jumping rope at the Bliss School Age Center Jan. 13. He had them repeat after him, “I am strong.” Photo by Marcie C. Wright, Monitor Staff. Marcie C. Wright, Monitor Staff:

The Get Fit Be Strong World Tour came to Fort Bliss this year. Olympian Buddy Lee and his team of jump masters encouraged youth to consider jumping rope a part of fitness nutrition and nutrition a global part of their lifestyles during the tour stop Thursday through Saturday.

The Child Youth and School Services-sponsored tour supports Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative for children. The program, designed by Lee, teaches children to jump rope in a way that they can get excited about, while aiming to build confidence and self-esteem.

Lee said he started jumping rope as a teenager when he noticed his neighbor, Herbert Rainey Jr., a black belt in karate, doing fancy tricks and using it to train. Impressed, Lee picked up a jump rope and hasn’t stopped since. A first-year wrestler, Lee thought this might improve his competitive edge. It did.

Now, the jump rope has become Lee’s claim to fame. Initially used as a training tool, he advanced to doing homemade stunts and is known around the world for his difficult tricks and as the number one jump rope trainer.

“I eat, sleep and breathe jump rope,” said Lee. During the tour, Buddy Lee first taught School Age Centers and Youth Activities Center staff the benefits and techniques of jumping rope. On day two, he showed these same beginner techniques to the youth, and on day three, had a jump-off for winners to earn prizes and scholarships.

Lee’s program is modeled after his story. Jumping rope brought a positive change into his life that amassed him unforgettable opportunities. His wrestling scholarship is one of them, which he accredits to his “lightning-fast speed” gained from jumping rope. He now awards scholarships to youth as a way to give them a start, he said.

Click To View Jump Rope Sprint

Teshaun Welch, 9, practices jumping rope under the instruction of Buddy Lee and his team of jump masters during their class at Bliss SAC Jan. 13. Photo by Marcie C. Wright, Monitor Staff.

His goal with this program is to teach Army caretakers how to positively affect lives by adding this system to what is already in place. It gives the children something fun to do while affording teachers a conduit to be up close and personal role models.

“If you’re going to change the world and make a difference, kids are the ones because they don’t have prejudices,” said Lee. “The only way to make the world a better place is to influence the children.

“I was that kid,” continued Lee. “It’s people who were taking care of kids after school that made the difference for me.”

Rainey tours with Lee as a part of the Get Fit Be Strong team. He adds concrete inspiration to the story of Lee’s potential. Rainey aims to spread the message that teachers and adults are models whether they want to be or not, as was his realization of the inspiration he had in the lives of Lee and others.

“I was just having fun,” said Rainey. “I didn’t realize the impact I had on these kids until they came back to me and thanked me.”Working in juvenile justice he heard this a lot, but it wasn’t until years later that he understood his affect on Lee, when he received an invitation to watch him perform in the Olympic tryouts.

“It floored me to hear him say that I had that impact on his life,” said Rainey. “It made me proud. … He’s doing a lot of great things. To be a part of this is like a dream.”

Both Lee and Rainey hope the CYSS teachers can share in the experience of motivating children to success through fitness and leadership.
“They have the resources to impact these kids to a great degree,” said Rainey.


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