SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Positivity and persistence were the takeaways of the day as the Three Doctors Foundation and Seton Hall University’s Educational Opportunity Fund Program hosted their 10th annual Healthy Mind and Body Charity Walkathon on the campus of Seton Hall University on Saturday, July 23.
The purpose of the walkathon was to promote health and fitness among local area youth and families in need. The event also included health and wellness organizations such as the NJ Aids Walk, the G.A.L. Foundation, Nassan’s Place, the Family Healing Center and AERO Farms.
The Three Doctors Foundation is the brainchild of doctors Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt and George Jenkins, who all grew up in Newark and made a pact to graduate from Seton Hall University and go on to become doctors.
In 2000, the doctors founded the nonprofit “The Three Doctors Foundation,” with a mission to inspire and motivate youth through education, and to achieve leadership and career success in their community through the formation of positive peer and mentor relationships.
Their story is detailed in their three New York Times best-selling books, “The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream,” “The Bond: Three Young Men Learn to Forgive and Reconnect with Their Fathers” — both published by Riverhead Books — and “We Beat the Street,” published by Dutton Children’s Books. Davis is also the author of “Living and Dying in Brick City: An E.R. Doctor Returns Home,” published by Random House, a personal exploration of the health care crisis facing inner-city communities, from the point of view of an emergency room physician who grew up in the neighborhood he serves.
The three doctors benefited from the Educational Opportunity Program at Seton Hall University, established in 1968 to provide educational and financial assistance to eligible New Jersey students of academic promise from disadvantaged backgrounds. EOP combines the financial assistance from the Educational Opportunity Fund, along with academic support, such as tutoring, structured study, academic advisement, opportunity for community service, internships and counseling services throughout the college experience.
Walkathon attendees also had an opportunity to hear the doctors’ stories about their struggles and triumphs encountered while achieving their dreams, and how to fulfill their own passions.
“Always have a plan and think about next steps,” Davis advised the audience. “When I was in my emergency room residency I was always thinking about where I wanted to be next and what I needed to do to get there. Live in the present, but prepare for the future. Be very active with internships, and don’t be afraid to go get that next degree — the jobs are going to be there.”
All three doctors agreed that education is what saved their lives, and that surrounding themselves with one another and other positive people had made the most profound impact on their journey in navigating the realities of inner-city Newark and the demands on them as students.
“You have to surround yourself with smart people. We stepped out on faith,” Hunt told the audience. “It’s never too late to start anew; we all have something to give. We were probably the only philanthropists who started out with student loans. Believe in yourself and know that you matter and that you can achieve.”
In addition to speaking to the audience about their experiences, the doctors also awarded nine students from Seton Hall’s pre-med and pre-dental program with scholarships for the coming school year.
When asked what motivated them, the doctors pointed to teachers and others who had encouraged them along the way.
“I had a lot of teachers who got in my head that I was smart and that I had potential. I knew that it got real once I signed the promissory note for my first student loan because I knew I couldn’t go home with student loan debt and no degree,” Jenkins told the audience. “Look to people who motivate you.”
Photos by Shanee Frazier