Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Health. Discussion »
Building Healthy Communities
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA - Navajo PGA golfer Notah Begay III participated in the Clinton Foundation "Health Matters: Activating Wellness in Every Generation" conference at the Renaissance Esmeralda Indian Wells Resort & Spa near Palm Springs on Tuesday. The Clinton Foundation was started by former President Bill Clinton after he left the presidency.
In his introductory remarks, President Clinton praised Begay for his work to curb diabetes.
Begay is the first full-blooded American Indian to win a PGA tournament. He was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico near a golf course. He used to tell others one day he would play in a PGA tour. He said no one believed him.
His golf skills were so good he won a scholarship to play at Stanford University. He and Tiger Woods became roommates while both attended Stanford and have remained close friends ever since.
Tuesday, Begay served on a panel called "Building Healthy Communities" with actress Goldie Hawn, The Hawn Foundation; Susan Dell, founder of the Michael and Susan Foundation; Lakeysha Sowunmi, Mother; Annika Sorenstam, founder of the Annika Foundation. The panel was moderated by Karolee Sowle, CEO of the Desert Regional Medical Center.
Each panelist was afforded the opportunity to discuss their involvement in improving health in their respective communities.
Begay told the audience, after he suffered a disc tear in his back, he was unable to play golf and became inactive. Soon became depressed. In order to overcome the inactivity and depression, he went to as many American Indian reservations and communities to give motivation talks. He said it did not matter if he spoke to fifth graders or high school students.
“I began to notice the fourth and fifth graders who were 20 pounds overweight on reservations. It was not like that when I was in school,”
"Then when you realize that most services on reservations are inadequate. You see basketball hoops with no nets."
He said began to ask himself: "How can I make a difference?"
Soon he started the NB3 Foundation that has worked to curb type-2 diabetes among American Indian youth.
“With diabetes, you can do something about it. We can beat it we can win,”
American Indian kids don't know what they are up against, unless they are educated about diabetes, according to Begay.
posted January 18, 2011 8:20 am est
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