Rep. Braley voices support for the #GrinWell Challenge and compares the program to Olympian-inspired legislation.

Rep. Bruce Braley, the Democratic Party's candidate for Iowa's open Senate seat, pumps up runners at the St. Francis Manor Fun Run & Walk.

Rep. Bruce Braley, the Democratic Party’s candidate for Iowa’s open Senate seat, pumps up runners at the St. Francis Manor Fun Run & Walk.

Representative Bruce Braley, the Democratic nominee for Iowa’s open Senate seat, warmly endorsed the #GrinWell Challenge at the St. Francis Manor Fun Run & Walk this bitter cold Saturday.

“I think that it’s very exciting that Grinnell College students have an app available that allows them to get information about their lives and their lifestyle to make them healthier,” Rep. Braley said.

Grinnell College President Raynard Kington launched the #GrinWell Challenge this week, encouraging students to record their sleeping patterns, fruit and vegetable intake, exercise, and restorative time on a smartphone application developed by Grinnell AppDev. The challenge’s goal is to promote wellness and healthy habits.

As students begin signing up for the challenge, prominent voices on campus have shown some skepticism. The Scarlet and Black strongly critiqued the #GrinWell Challenge for ignoring broader issues, such as the lack of adequate counseling services at SHACS.

Rep. Braley compared aspects of the #GrinWell Challenge to his Shawn Johnson Fitness for Life Act, which incorporates heart monitors and other equipment in school physical fitness curriculums to combat childhood obesity. Gymnast Shawn Johnson, the 2008 Olympics gold medal, partnered with Braley in 2011 to work on the bill.

“It’s all about educating young people that fitness is a lifetime commitment and the things that we can do to help motivate people to exercise more and watch what they eat from their earliest age to the end of their lives,” Rep. Braley said. “It’s not only good for them, […] but it does a lot to decrease our overall healthcare costs, if we help people make good choices about their lives.”

Rep. Braley visited Grinnell to serve as the honorary race director for the St. Francis Manor Outrageously Orange Fun Run & Walk. Over one hundred members of the community, including the Grinnell College Student Athlete Advisory Committee, braved the near-freezing temperature and wind chill to run the two-mile course.

“We want to challenge all ages to stay healthy, active, positive and energetic,” Fitness Specialist Kristin Kahn said in St. Francis Manor’s press release. At the event, Kahn also thanked Grinnell College’s baseball players for their participation.

Rep. Braley’s lively mother, Marcia Braley, joined the congressman at the Fun Run. A longtime resident of neighboring Brooklyn, Iowa, Mrs. Braley has a deep personal commitment to physical fitness. Before coming to Grinnell, she had already walked three miles on Saturday morning, and she planned to walk three more miles later that day.

While taking classes from the University of Northern Iowa part-time to earn her degree in education, Mrs. Braley would drive from Brooklyn to Cedar Falls for over an hour to attend her 8AM classes, rain or shine or snowstorm. She encouraged Grinnellians to stay fit and show up to class. After all, most Grinnellians only need to walk a few minutes to attend classes in Noyce, Bucksbaum, or ARH—barely a tenth of her morning routine.