Charity steps up for healthy living
Monty Betham is fighting a big battle – and it looks like he may be winning.
The former Warriors captain and boxer is now tackling obesity with his charity Steps for Life.
The organisation will benefit from this year’s Grocery Charity Ball in August.
The ball is in its 10th year and is run by New Zealand’s two biggest supermarket owners, Progressive Enterprises and FoodStuffs, and the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council.
Mr Betham is often thought of as a tough guy but he says he broke down when the chosen charity was announced. It was Steps for Life’s last chance, he says.
‘‘I got a bit emotional because I really care about it. You don’t put your name to something which you think is going to fail.’’
New Zealand is ranked the third fattest nation in the OECD.
Mr Betham and his sister Chante Betham-Spencer founded Steps for Life in 2011 to help young people find healthier lifestyles.
The 12-week programme teaches exercise and nutrition, including supermarket tours where students discuss food options, prices, and labelling tricks.
On average most participants come away 10kg lighter and noticeably more selfconfident, Mr Betham says.
‘‘By the end of the 12 weeks they’re totally different kids . . . they’re talking, they’ve found voices.’’
Grocery Charity Ball Trust director Don Graham says Mr Betham’s application blew him away.
‘‘He gave a speech right from the heart. These guys run off the smell of an oily rag and they’re just so passionate about it.’’
Mr Graham says the ball is the one night of the year where the grocery industry works together instead of arguing for market share.
The link between supermarkets and promoting obesity awareness really struck a chord, Mr Graham says.
‘‘It made us feel very humble actually. It’s the association of what Steps for Life is doing and it’s about being socially responsible.’’
Organisers are aiming to raise $250,000 from the ball.
Creating awareness of the charity is even more important, Mr Graham says.
Steps for Life is based in South Auckland but would like to go national.
‘‘They are a very small, humble organisation starting at the grassroots. They’re working their way up. They have enormous potential,’’ Mr Graham says.
Students get started with Steps for Life for a range of reasons but they have one common goal – to change their lives.
Onehunga High School student Jaedene Doull, 14, says her health is what got her going.
‘‘I have a heart problem and I’m just too big for it.’’
Her classmate Angela Fotumanusa, 14, says she applied to lose weight for her sister’s wedding and student Kororia Down, 12, says she just wants to get fit.
Mr Betham says they’ve come to the right place.
‘‘I say just give us 12 weeks of your life and we’ll give you a new one.’’
Fighting fit: Steps for Life founder Monty Betham, right, with Grocery Charity Ball Trust director Don Graham and programme participants Angela Fotumanusa, Kororia Down and Jaedene Doull.