Coach eats worms, raising heart health awareness

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - "At first my kids thought I was joking around. They thought I was going to do gummy worms. And, they thought I was going to pretend to swallow them. But, I am going to swallow 7 live earthworms," said Slack Elementary P. E. coach, Bruce Runnels.

One after another, that's exactly what Coach Runnels did in front of 450 students. This bizarre demonstration is an attention-getter he uses to get kids involved in taking an active role in their health.

"My main concern is to try to keep my kids healthy, not just teach them how to stay healthy but, so they'll know how to be healthy," said Runnels.

Runnels agreed to eat one worm for every 500-dollars students raised for heart health awareness.

"We raise this money to help prevent heart disease and help people, I guess educate people on what they can do about heart disease," said Runnels.

Cardiologist Kevin Hudson says being heart healthy starts by eating right and exercising. It's a habit that we should start early on in life.

"With heart healthiness, it's not something you can do for a day or a week or a month. It's what we do as a lifestyle. It's something we have to change the way we eat on a regular basis to have a real impact," said Cardiologist Kevin L. Hudson of the Heart Institute of East Texas.

Dr. Hudson says if we take preventative measures now, we can avoid trips to the doctor for problems later.

Because heart disease is the number one killer of Americans, Runnels takes the lessons he teaches seriously. So, through his Pilates demonstrations, "Jump Rope for Heart", and worm eating, he hopes to make a lasting impact.

"They get it engrained in their psyche that this will help them live longer," said Slack Elementary School Principal Robin Stowe.

As for next year, Runnels says he'll shave his head.

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