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The three Fs: Fitness, fashion & food

DANNY ALOTTA | 12/30/2011, 3:31 p.m.

During this time of year, we often give thanks for all that we are so fortunate to have. However, it's easy to lose sight of the most important gift many of us take for granted-our health! As a cancer survivor, my health is something I hold very sacred.

Truthfully, it wasn't until my second scare with this foe that I sincerely appreciated the gifts every day has to offer. Consequently, once a year for the last five years I accompany a group of youths from UWantGame.org (UWG), a nonprofit I co-founded, to Ronald McDonald House (RMH). For those unfamiliar with RMH, they provide housing and treatment to pediatric cancer patients and their families. It is a remarkable organization that saves countless lives. UWG, meanwhile, helps high school student-athletes reach their potential in academics, athletics and personal growth through one-on-one mentoring relationships with successful former collegiate athletes.

The three Fs are arguably more important for the kids at the RMH than they are for us. Being able to play, feel good about yourself and simply share time with others are things some of us take for granted. Unfortunately, for these children their treatment can prohibit activity. Despite the fact that we bring the kids from UWG to the RMH to share their time and in a sense be a mentor for a day, it is regularly the kids at the RMH who teach all of us a thing or two. Their energy is contagious, and regardless of what's going on in their world they put it all aside to spend quality time with us.

It could be said that ignorance is bliss, as a child is unaware how precarious their circumstances can be. I know this was the case with me. Upon interacting with their parents we often get the clearer picture. Regardless, the value of the three Fs is not lost in the severity of the situation. Without any words, it can be seen on everyone's face how good it feels to be active. Interacting with others, engaging in physical activity, sharing a meal and, even better, sharing a smile go way beyond our imaginations. When you're giving thanks this holiday season, please remember the best gift of all is our health!

Learn more about U Want Game on Facebook at www.facebook.com/uwantgame and Ronald McDonald House New York at www.rmh-newyork.org/.