How The Kennedy Health Legacy Continues Now

By Neenah Payne

Health Legacy of JFK’s Presidency

During his inauguration on January 20, 1961, John Fitzgerald Kennedy chose not to wear a hat as he gave his speech from the podium on a cold windy day. Until that day, men were expected to wear hats. Suddenly, men stopped wearing hats because everyone wanted to look young, healthy, and fit like JFK.

There were lots photos of Jack and Jackie at the beach and sailing near the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port. Sailing was one of JFK’s favorite pastimes. He had served in the Navy in WWII and was a war hero as documented in PT 109.


“We do not want our children to become a generation of spectators. Rather we want each of them to be a participant in the vigorous life.” John F. Kennedy

John Kennedy grew up in a household devoted to athletic activity. Tennis, swimming, touch football, water skiing, sailing and winter sports were family recreational staples. Joseph Kennedy Sr. had lettered in baseball for Harvard.

All four Kennedy brothers played football at Harvard. Robert and Edward both were Harvard football lettermen. Joe Jr. was an outstanding player at Choate School and though he did not receive a major letter he was an active member of the Harvard Squad.

JFK gamely pursued a playing role in Harvard’s football program but did not progress beyond the Junior Varsity as illness and injury in his freshman year curtailed his involvement. Robert’s teammates remembered and admired him for his courageous and resolute play at the end position. In later years all the Kennedy brothers, and in some cases their sisters and wives too, famously enjoyed games of touch football.

Health problems often affected young Jack Kennedy’s own involvement, but with undiminished spirit he remained determined to be an energetic participant as well as an enthusiastic follower of sports. The children of Joe and Rose Kennedy grew up in a family of baseball fans. Their grandfather John F. Fitzgerald was a leading member of the “Royal Rooters” fan clubs of both the Boston Red Sox and Boston Braves. JFK, encouraged by his longtime associate Dave Powers, followed the Red Sox closely as did his brother Ted.

He was part of the Harvard sailing crew that won the Eastern Collegiate Championship, and also won in individual sailing competition. He swam and played golf and football for the junior varsity at Harvard and tried his hand at boxing. In later years, he remained an accomplished golfer and, despite chronic back pain, he continued to enjoy touch football, tennis, and softball with family and friends, and to sail Victura, his 26 foot sloop in Nantucket Sound….

His own involvement and his family’s association with such athletic activity provided a good springboard for Kennedy to address the nation’s declining physical fitness. As president, he re-invigorated The President’s Council on Physical Fitness, encouraging Americans to take physical fitness seriously. The effort, associated with the future health and competitive readiness of America, was seen as very much part of the “New Frontier.”

President Kennedy challenged the nation to become more active, but this activism and love of sports was embraced by all members of the Kennedy Family. While the President was challenging the US Marines to walk 50 miles in 20 hours and challenging high school students to earn awards from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver was working with disabled children in a “camp” at her Maryland home. This camp, which taught the children habits of physical fitness and how to play organized sports, is credited as the genesis for what would later become the Special Olympics.

At age 44, Kennedy was the youngest elected president. Although Kennedy had serious back issues that twice threatened his life, he modeled health. How John F. Kennedy’s Back Pain Affected His Life and Death discusses: “the differences between the 35th president’s public persona, as a man of health and vigor, and his private reality — a man in nearly constant pain.”

When JFK entered the White House, the nation was treated to the image of a young war hero whose whole family was healthy and athletic. It was an inspiration for the nation and the world. There were lots of photos of Jack Kennedy playing football in Hyannis Port or Virginia with Bobby and Ted Kennedy. Bobby Kennedy served as JKF’s Attorney General.

The Kennedy family touch football games were infamous

The Running Phenomenon

While the Kennedy administration sparked a nation interest in health, the running craze didn’t catch on until after the Kennedy administration. The first New York City Marathon took place 9/13/70 in Central Park with 127 registered runners and  55 finishers. The 2023 New York City Marathon with 51,402 total finishers was the third largest edition of the NYC Marathon.

The Marathon Guide lists countless marathons in various US states.

What are the six World Marathon Majors? explains:

More than 800 marathons are organised every year, but only six have the title of World Marathon Major: Tokyo Marathon, Boston Marathon, London Marathon, Berlin Marathon, Chicago Marathon, and New York City Marathon.

These marathons are some of the most prestigious and sought-after in the world, as amateur and elite athletes race 42.195 km across some of the most famous city streets on earth. Many runners dream of taking part in just one Marathon Major, but some of the more ambitious don’t just want one finisher’s medal, they want all six. Doing so puts you into an exclusive club and earns you a Six Star Medal.

On the elite side of things, the World Marathon Majors have seen a slew of records broken over the years, including the current men’s world record of 2:01:09, set by Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge at the 2022 Berlin Marathon and Brigid Kosgei’s women’s world record of 2:14:04 set at the 2019 edition of the Chicago Marathon.

RFK Jr’s Surfed In Hawaii On His 70th Birthday

Robert Kennedy Jr. continues his family’s legacy of role-modeling health. For his 70th birthday on January 17, Robert Kennedy Jr. went surfing in Hawaii with Kelly Slater, considered the greatest surfer of all time. Slater holds nearly every significant record in the sport with 11 world titles, 55 event victories, and the record for being both the youngest and oldest men’s world champion. Slater claimed his first world title as a 20-year-old in 1992, and won his last at 39 in 2011.

Since turning pro in 1990, Slater’s storied career has included world dominance in the mid 90’s when he won five consecutive titles from 1993-1998 before retiring in 1999. He returned to competition in 2002 and went on to claim more global titles in 2005, 2008, 2010, and his last in 2011.

Slater first publicly supported RFK Jr.’s campaign via social media when he shared a clip of RFK Jr. talking about his early struggles with addiction. Slater captioned the repost simply. “The kind of person I want as a President. Great message.”

Kelly Slater and RFK Jr. Went Surfing Together in Hawaii | The Inertia

Best birthday present ever – Catching waves with Kelly Slater

Kennedy Skied Jackson Hole

Kennedy brings Excitement to a snowy Jackson Hole, Wyoming

By Raquel Master, Special to The Kennedy Beacon

On February 8, 2024, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. excited locals and visitors of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, attending an intimate fundraiser at the Cloudveil/ Luxury Hotel on Town Square,  hosted by super PAC  American Values 2024, which funds The Kennedy Beacon.  The event’s host, Mohammed Sharaf, is one of Kennedy’s most exuberant young supporters.

Kennedy has been an active skier for over 65 years, and an advocate for preserving the vitality of the environment for longer. The Grand Teton mountains were the perfect backdrop for the fundraiser, with Jackson Hole receiving the most snowfall of the year, getting 3 feet of snow within 72 hours.

At the Jackson Hole Ski Mountain, I was fortunate to jump on the aerial tram line with Sharaf and his friends, four young republican business professionals from Texas. The men spoke of Kennedy’s honesty, the impressive nature of his open-mindedness towards evidence-based knowledge, and their hope to vote for a candidate who is far from just “the lesser of two evils.”

Sharaf told me Kennedy exemplifies “incredible humility, has never met a stranger, is completely genuine, and wants to explore and understand the perspectives of everyone he meets, whether he agrees with them or not.” Sharaf hopes to contribute to initiatives such as ballot access in all 50 states and advertising to inform the public on the Kennedy movement.

As evening fell, festivities began at the Cloudveil event suite, with a lively cocktail hour during which business owners, influential activists, filmmakers, doctors, and even pro-snowboarders mingled.

After Sharaf introduced Kennedy, he spoke eloquently about the environment. “If we treat the planet as a liquidation, we will have a few years of pollution-based prosperity,” Kennedy said. “It will make a few people billionaires while impoverishing the rest of us. Our children are going to pay for our choices.” He continued, “Preserving nature is an investment in infrastructure we must make, same as investing in telecommunications, as efforts to sustain economic vitality. We are protecting the environment not just for the birds and the trees, but for our own sake. Our economy sustains itself on this functioning ecosystem.

These global commons, the air, the water, the wildlife, the aquifers, the beaches, the landscapes, the purple mountains majesty, they connect us to our past, to our history, providing context for our communities, sourcing virtues and character, and ultimately our relationship with our creator. God talks to people through many factors, organized religions, wise people, prophets, through great books, through art and literature and music and poetry, with color and texture. When we destroy these, we diminish our capacity to sense the divine and what our own potential is as human beings. We deserve a president who understands how important these things are.”

After Kennedy’s talk, I spoke with Francine, a local Native American healer. She’s heavily involved in local politics, but until now could not succumb to voting for one of these “lesser evil” presidential candidates. Finally, she’s excited to see a solid choice on the ballot. Her biggest take away from Kennedy’s speech: His focus on bringing  healing, to take care of his country’s health and human rights first, as a president should. She said the U.S. needs stability and support on its own front. We need our country to sustain a stronger voice for itself, to lead by example, as it has throughout history.

As Francine put it, our people appear “programmed, colonized, trained, poisoned; between what we eat, drink, our education, our hospitals, it’s all so messed up, so skewed from the truth, we are programmed to take the poison, until we don’t even feel the need to fight for ourselves anymore. We skip over ourselves to worry about other countries.”

Kennedy Embodies Fitness

At 70 years old, Robert Kennedy Jr. embodies fitness, continuing the Kennedy legacy. He is an inspiration for other Americans to shape up – just as his uncle John Kennedy was as President in the 1960’s.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr films workout ahead of election debate with Biden 6/27/23

In a video went viral, a shirtless RFK Jr. struggles to clear what looks to be about 120 pounds of plates, across eight reps, with an assist from a spotter looming behind the rack.


RFK on exercise, diet, TRT, and steroids

Many Ways Kennedy Plans To Restore America’s Health

The #1 Cause Of Obesity, Diabetes & Illness Nobody Talks About | Robert Kennedy Jr & Mark Hyman

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is an independent candidate for President of the United States. He is the founder of the Waterkeeper Alliance—the world’s largest clean water advocacy group—and served as its longtime chairman and attorney. He founded the Children’s Health Defense, where he served as chairman and chief litigation counsel in its campaign to address childhood chronic disease and toxic exposures. He was also on the team that prosecuted and won the case against Monsanto for glyphosate’s role in causing cancer.

As President, he promises to restore the middle class, unravel corporate capture, end the chronic disease epidemic, improve the quality of the water we drink and the air we breathe, heal the divide, fix our public education system, take care of our veterans, support the trades, make homes affordable again, support regenerative farming, among other key priorities.

Enter for a chance to hike in LA with Bobby and me here:

In the video above, Kennedy discusses his plan to launch wellness centers in rural communities instead of prisons. RFK Jr’s Collaboration With Oliver Anthony shows Kennedy met with singer Oliver Anthony to discuss the use of part of his 92-acre farm in Virginia as a wellness center. He said the idea is modeled on San Patrignano centers in Italy which Kennedy has visited many times. The 5-year program is free and people have the opportunity to learn various trades. They eat only organic foods which they raise.

RFK Jr. says Anthony is partnering with him now on this initiative. Both Kennedy and Anthony are very open about being recovering addicts. Dr. Mark Hyman points out to Kennedy that the health crisis in America is now a national emergency that must be addressed urgently on multiple fronts.


Kevin Nealon hikes with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in the canyons of Los Angeles. Bobby chats about his childhood growing up a Kennedy, The Waterkeeper organization, John Lennon jamming at his house, childhood vacations, John Kennedy acting, napping, his mother’s views on life and tragedy, his father’s philosophy, campaign and the days after his father’s asassination and the funeral train, his voice issue, visiting the White House, being recognized, Hyannis Port Compound, his uncle John F. Kennedy and more….

Neenah Payne writes for Activist Post

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