MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI -- The 25th Annual Great American Smokeout 10K Walk/Run 2001 was held Nov. 16 aboard the Station in an effort to increase awareness of the dangers of tobacco.
Nobiyuki Maeyama was the overall winner of the event, with a time of 37:01, but the event had more winners than those who crossed the finish line first. Some individuals won the battle against smoking, at least for one day.
"There are a lot of smokers who made a pledge to stop smoking for 24 hours," said Lt. Cmdr. Heather Gilchrist, Branch Medical Clinic division health promotions officer. "They can feel the effects of smoking on such a run. The run is a support system for individuals to quit smoking, and for others to run to support them."
That support system involved friends and coworkers coming out to help individuals stop smoking.
"I came out here to run with my shop, and to help promote a smoke-free environment," said Alex Walker, participant. "I do not smoke, but I have Marines under my command that do, and I want to encourage them to stop smoking. This is the first step in their quitting."
The walk and run was an outreach program to the Station community, started by the American Cancer Society 25 years ago. Since then, smaller events like the one held here have sprung up around the world.
"We're trying to show people that they can stay healthy and enjoy themselves without smoking," said Tadamasa Uemura, Marine Corps Community Services Semper Fit recreation specialist. "It's important that we reach out to the community like this."
Each year, an average of 4 million people die in the United States from smoking-related illness. This year, more than 10 million people recognized the threat of smoking-related illnesses, and took part in the Great American Smokeout.