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Mentoring a High School Cross Country Runner in WFPB: Part 1

senior capstone project. sean doyle

In the last couple of weeks, a new inspiring and unexpected journey has begun to unfold for me. It started with a phone call and was followed by a meeting at a coffee shop last Wednesday with an upcoming senior named Sean from our local high school and an introduction to his senior capstone project.

He had seen a recent article in our newspaper about me being selected by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to teach their Food for Life program, and he wanted to talk about plant-based nutrition. I was intrigued and, as our conversation progressed, his story really got me excited!

He shared with me that he is on the cross country and track team and is hoping to attend college as a runner.

A number of months ago, he watched the documentary Fed Up with Katie Couric and was inspired to give up sugar, because he wanted to be at his optimal performance level and take the best care of his body.

The film also moved him because of the obese kids featured that were exercising like mad and eating what they thought was a healthy diet but still not losing weight. “It was just sad to me that they were trying so hard but not making any progress.”

After switching his diet, Sean encountered some resistance from other students and teammates about his new way of eating. They just didn’t get it.

So, Sean decided that he wants to do his senior project on the benefits of plant-based, whole foods living, as well as show his teammates and fellow students that it can taste great too.

He asked me to donate 15 hours of mentoring time to his project and do the required paperwork. Without hesitation, I told him I was IN!

To be completely honest, his determination to take this journey for not only himself but for the good of others that look up to him inspired me and made me a bit emotional.

Part of the project plan is to prepare and serve food for 100 people at the school cafeteria. He wants to offer information and food samples and talk to students, faculty, and staff about the benefits of this way of life and the wonderful food options.

There are a number of logistics with the school that have to be addressed but, hopefully, they will all be worked out in the next few months.

To continue to build up the required 15 hours for his Senior Project, we are planning to do the following:

  • For our next meeting in a little over a week, Sean will accompany me to a local health coaching session with a client where we will prepare three plant-based dishes in the client’s home.
  • We will do a private cooking and nutrition session to teach Sean how to prepare some easy and delicious plant-based meals in his home for his family.
  • On September 15th, he will assist me with a presentation and cooking demo at a local physical therapy medical office that will be open to the community.
  • In October, we will teach Food for Life classes titled, KickStart Your Health where we will show local residents how to improve their health, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and lose weight through plant-based nutrition.

To say that I’m excited about this is such an understatement! This young man has students (and hopefully faculty and staff) that look up to him, and they will likely be interested in what he is passionate about.

When he goes with me to the programs mentioned above, people will take notice of a young, fit athlete helping to spread the message of health and nutrition in our community.

I happened to have a copy of Rich Roll‘s book, Finding Ultra, that I let Sean borrow. He excitedly took it and said he couldn’t wait to read it.  My face hurt a little from smiling so big at the excitement in his eyes when he saw it on the table at the coffee shop.

Yesterday, I couldn’t wait to tell him about the plant-based athlete, Scott Jurek, who set a new Appalachian Trail speed record for 2,200 miles when it hit the news Sunday morning in National Geographic.

I have a feeling I’m going to be learning a lot of new things about running, even though I have never been a runner, and that’s completely alright with me! I used to say the only way I’ll be seen running is if someone is chasing me. Who knows, I might change my mind about that, but please don’t hold your breath.

This is the first post of a series I plan to write about the journey Sean and I will take together titled, Mentoring a High School Cross Country Runner in Plant-Based Nutrition. I want to share it with all of you so others might be encouraged by this young man’s determination and compassion for others.

Stay tuned and let the journey begin!

All articles in this series on Sean

May 18, 2016, Sean Doyle signs with Appalachian State track team. Polk Sports article. For the WIN!!

senior capstone project. sean doyle
senior capstone project. sean doyle
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Ruth Heidrich

Thursday 1st of June 2017

It would be great if we could get some girls involved in running and in changing their diets for their many benefits as well! How about someone there picking up the ball for the other important half of the school population with my book, A Race For Life, which covers going from cancer to the Ironman Triathlon. We need more female athletes!

Thursday 1st of June 2017

Dr. Heidrich, you are absolutely right! Hopefully, that will be in the near future. Your story is one of the most amazing I've ever read. If you haven't read it yet, I did an article on you back in 2014. Here's the link. Thank you for the inspiration and encouragement!


Wednesday 29th of July 2015

I am excited to hear more about Sean's progress and success. Because of big pharma, greedy doctors… we the people have to regain our health. People like Sean are so important, bringing their youth, enthusiasm… for everybody's and animals' wellbeing. Terry, thank you so much for writing this important blog and giving your time, and a huge thank you for Costco as well! (just read it on Facebook). Nadege Manhattan Beach, Ca


Wednesday 29th of July 2015

Nadege, thank you so much for your support! I'm excited for Sean, as well as the students and faculty he may influence with his project. So glad you are following this and giving encouragement!


Tuesday 14th of July 2015

I love the enthusiasm. I am so excited for you guys. I wish that I could be there to watch it all happen. Sean, you are truly an inspiration to others. I look forward to reading more about your journey with plant based nutrition.


Tuesday 14th of July 2015

Thanks for all the comments! It would be awesome if you guys would leave your state or country so Sean can see how far this is reaching. The encouragement is terrific, so please keep it coming! :)


Tuesday 14th of July 2015

I'd also recommend the books by triathlete Brendan Brazier, who is a vegan triathlete. This sounds like a great project, good luck!