March 2, 2014 at 7:55 AM ET
As part of TODAY’s Shine a Light series, Erica Hill, Lester Holt, Jenna Wolfe and Dylan Dreyer will learn and share tips on how to eat better, exercise more and get enough sleep — and they want to the community of Baltimore to do it with them.
"Baltimore needs all the help that it can get," said resident and TODAY fan Sade Parham, who asked the anchors to help her city get healthy.
Baltimore is struggling. Nearly a quarter of the city's 620,000 residents live below the poverty line, and health has taken a back seat in many areas. It's a major concern for the mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
"When you take a look at the rates that we have for asthma, cancer, diabetes, obesity ... these are challenges where Baltimore is above the national average," Rawlings-Blake told TODAY.
10 percent of Balitmore residents struggle with diabetes, and 25 percent are smokers. The mayor hopes that the Shine a Light series will help residents get motivated to take better care of themselves.
“This isn't just a big weight-loss program, because it's not always about weight,” said TODAY's Lester Holt, when the series was announced. “This is a way to really get people invested in their overall health."
Americans today are increasingly stressed, burning the candle on both ends until they ultimately flame out, the anchors said.
“Finding time to exercise is really difficult when you may be working two or three jobs,” Erica noted.
It's a personal effort for our anchors. Dylan lost her grandparents to heart disease when they were in their 60s. She also has watched her father live with diabetes. “I don’t want to lose my parents at a young age, and I want to live to a ripe old age as well,” she said.
Lester said his came from a wake-up call he received after getting an annual physical. “You suddenly look at those cholesterol numbers and things like triglycerides and they're starting to inch up,” he said. “The results of living a not-perfectly-healthy lifestyle."
That’s why the anchors want to "Shine a Light" on the importance of living healthy and the incremental ways a community can achieve that goal.
“We want to all do this together," Jenna said. "We want to learn from you, you learn from us, and together I think we can really make some strides.”
"It's amazing what you can do when you get one group of people together," she said. "We're hoping that by doing this together, collectively, we can have a broader impact and let that ripple across the country."
Track our anchors' progress on our Shine a Light TODAY Facebook page. And tell us on social media how you're pitching in, using the hashtag #ShineALight.