The great state of Colorado is nearly synonymous with outdoor recreation, fitness and physical activity. Locals are out there climbing 14ers, cycling to Boulder or running marathons down Colfax all while encouraging others to join them in the fun. Kristina Davidson is one woman who created a big, healthy encouragement for her community. She is the co-founder, alongside her husband Jay, of the First American State Bank Fitness Festival, a wonderful motivation for children and families to live a healthy lifestyle. The FASB Fitness Festival is a 5K run/walk and 1K fitness walk with food samplings from top local restaurants, live music, a silent auction, giveaways and awards. The Fitness Festival has raised and donated $872,000 to the Community Asset Project in partnership with wellness offices in the Cherry Creek School District. These generous funds have provided vital programs including youth leadership trainings, drug/alcohol prevention, suicide prevention and other asset building initiatives for over 50,000 students in the district.
Name: Kristina Davidson
Marital Status: Married to Jay Davidson, CEO First American State Bank
Children: Michelle, 28; Joshua, 31
Career: Chairman and co-founder First American State Bank Fitness Festival
Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden
Home Today: Greenwood Village
CE: What do you miss about Sweden?
KD: I miss the cool summers and the ocean. I get a little homesick every spring. I come from a lovely country but it has long, dark winters.
CE: What is your most memorable Colorado experience?
KD: Meeting my husband here and raising our children.
CE: How would you describe yourself?
KD: I’m innovative, lively, ambitious and sometimes impulsive.
CE: What do you do in your spare time?
KD: What spare time? I do like gardening and I am a member of the Junior League’s Garden Club. I also like to workout, walking, reading and love to travel.
CE: Any favorite restaurants around town?
KD: Venice and Del Frisco’s.
CE: When did you dream up the Fitness Festival?
KD: FASB Fitness Festival, Inc. was founded in 2000.
CE: Was there a personal event that triggered this idea?
KD: Our two children attended Cherry Creek High School and they went to more funerals of young high school kids than I have attended in my lifetime. I saw a need for funds to develop a deterrent to negative behavior such as alcohol, other drugs and violent behavior.
CE: Why are you passionate about fitness and a healthy lifestyle?
KD: We believe fitness is a way to lead the youth in a positive direction before they get into trouble. A healthy lifestyle is beneficial for the body and the soul. It prepares kids to maximize their skills, academic potential and a future productive life in our community.
CE: How did you partner with Cherry Creek Schools?
KD: We contacted the school district and they liked the idea of a fundraiser for the district’s Prevention Office as well as the inclusion of children as volunteers in the festival. We were put in contact with Community Asset Project (CAP), which was already in place to support the Cherry Creek Schools Wellness Office. Our beneficiary is therefore CAP and they in turn work with the schools Wellness Office. We have a CAP member and several Wellness Office members on the Festival’s planning committee.
CE: How do you get kids involved in the race?
KD: All district schools get invitations to the Festival. Last year we had 61 schools represented. There is coordination with school principals, middle and high school
activity directors, school coordinator volunteers, PE teachers and information on the district web site. We have about 260 school volunteers the day of the event, (marching bands, cheerleaders, pom squads, course marshals, etc.)
CE: Where do the donations go and how is it used?
KD: CAP. Used for Wellness Office programs in the Cherry Creek school district. The Wellness Office’s program is effective because it provides the students “developmental assets” which are life skills and positive attributes. The students choose to incorporate that positive behavior into their life. The kids choose, they do the work, they take ownership and they really achieve.
CE: What is the most challenging thing about your position?
KD: Raising sponsor dollars. This last year has been very challenging due to cutbacks on many sponsors’ budgets!
CE: What is the most rewarding thing about your position?
KD: To know the programs within the schools are reaching the kids and to see the excitement in the kids attending the day of the event.
CE: What does the future hold for the Fitness Festival?
KD: I think the future depends on the economy of this country and if the younger generation wants to take over some day.
CE: To what would you attribute your success?
KD: A loyal and great group of volunteers and hard work! The people that volunteer for us are outstanding and we could not do this without them!
CE: What advice would you give to young people interested in volunteering?
KD: Start volunteering for Junior League of Denver, the provisional year is an outstanding learning experience. I am still a Junior League sustainer.
BIO: Jamie McAfee is a writer for Colorado Expression, an elementary school teacher and outdoor enthusiast. Though snowboarding is her favorite sport, she will be signing up for her first 5K this summer. Crossing the finish line among cheering fans will be a dream come true.