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RGHF’s list of Missing Fellowship Histories

RGHF’s list of Missing Fellowship Histories
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IFRFR has been changed to International Fellowship of Wellness and Fitness of Rotarians.


The Fellowship of Fitness Rotarians was initially formed in the mid-1980s by first international chairman Don Fraser of the St. Helena Rotary club in California, President of the American Running & Fitness Association.

After three years the fellowship disbanded but was then reorganized 5 years later after approval by 30 District Governor’s from different parts of the world with initial membership from 14 different districts by Rotarian Harold Friend, MD, (International Chair for 8 of the years between 1992 and 2006 & District Governor 1998-9) under the new name of International Fellowship of Running and Fitness Rotarians.  This occurred just before the 1992 Orlando Rotary convention and the first of many �fun runs� occurred each day at that convention starting in front of the convention hall each morning.  Also, in that year PRIP Cliff Dochterman held a �Salute to the Fellowships� in Cambridge, MA.  During that meeting over 30 Rotarians assembled to run in the snow each morning creating friendships that lasted for years.

Since then the fellowship has steadily grown with members coming from 38 different countries.  The largest numbers are from the United States, Japan and India.  Over the years IFRFR sponsored over 300 road races from 3 km up to full 42K marathons, the largest of which was in 2005 at the Rotary convention. In addition, IFRFR organized fun runs each morning at 15 of the Rotary conventions from 1992-2006. The most beautiful of which was running along the Mediterranean Sea in the early morning during the Nice France convention in 1995.


Fellowship Members at the 2004 Osaka Convention

These were closely followed by morning runs along a river in Calgary 1996 and, at the Glasgow Scotland convention in 1997, running at the break of dawn in a beautiful park near the convention site. During the years there were a number of wonderful projects that individual members organized. Under the direction of Rajan Vir (Vice-Chair 1997-2000) an exercise area was built in a park in Pune, India.  Peter Gray (1998-9 Chair) organized a group of Rotarians to run the London Marathon with a talk by Sir Roger Banister.  Jean-Emile Vanderheyden (Vice-Chair 1996-8) organized a 20 Km run for Parkinson�s Disease in Charleroi, Belgium.

Toshi Ihara (1999-2000 Chair & Vice-Chair for 9 years) helped organize the Mt. Misen international walk that has now been held for over 10 years walking up that sacred mountain in Japan. In 2006 our first woman Chair, Suzan Rada, returned the leadership to the St. Helen�s club in California.

Fitness – the word that has every head turning today was never given much importance earlier. There were very few people who paid attention to their fitness. This is because, earlier people used to be physically more active than what people are today. One had to walk or cycle his way to meet a neighbor or to get some items at the store.

But today, technology has improved to such an extent that people who stay within the same house use their mobile phones and online Applications to communicate with one another. With such increased use of technology, one has become physically less active. A sedentary lifestyle is what you can see today. As a result, people end up spending a good part of their monthly paycheck on gyms and fitness classes, to ensure they are fit and healthy.

A fellowship for those who are keen on their fitness and are ready to try new routines to improve their fitness quotient is nothing short of fun. The members are seen to be relaxed and open to new ideas and techniques. Here you can see businessmen competing with one another in physical exercises rather than the share price of their company’s stocks. This is a competition with a different perspective.

No matter how frequently one uses Goji Cream, to get rid of their wrinkles or keep their skin young, when they are physically fit and healthy, it shows on their skin. The skin is healthy, supple and young looking for a long time. People who are physically active tend to look younger than their age.