Health event set to start

ST. MARYS — The deadline for the 2012 version of the Grand Health Challenge — and the accompanying Grand Family Health Challenge — is nearing at the end of this month and organizers are looking forward to the latest weight-loss competition.
Organized by executives with The Evening Leader and the Wapakoneta Daily News in cooperation with Joint Township District Memorial Hospital (JTDMH), the premise of the challenge has remained the same through the years.
“We set this program up to encourage friends, families, co-workers, whoever to team up and plan to lose weight for a healthier new year,” Evening Leader Publisher Deb Zwez said. “We wanted to encourage our readers and local residents to start adopting healthier habits to improve the overall quality of their lives.”
The only way to put everyone on a level playing field was to find something that could be quantified, Zwez said, which led to the weight loss component of the challenge.
“We figured if we could calculate the percentage of weight loss from each team, we’d have something to use to make this a competitive effort, and at the end, have some way to award a prize,” Zwez said. “And because we know money is a great motivator, we designed the program to give away cash to the teams with the greatest percentage of weight loss.”
The top prize is $1,000. Second and third-place teams receive cash prizes of $500 and $300, respectively.
Those wishing to participate in the Grand Health Challenge can find entry forms in either of the newspapers as forms have been included in each edition for the last couple of weeks. Once complete, the form should be returned to either newspaper location with the $20 registration fee.
When the entry form is turned in, teams receive the schedule for weigh-ins and motivational meetings. Weigh-in begins the week of Jan. 3. At the weigh-in session, each participant will receive a folder with the schedule as well as other support materials that have been sponsored by Joint Township District Memorial Hospital.
“Thanks to Joint Township, we have a number of locations and times for the participants to weigh in,” Zwez said. “While obviously we can’t accommodate every time, there are seven opportunities to weigh in for each weigh-in session.”
This year’s Family Health Challenge has been made possible by a grant from Dannon. This is the second year of the family oriented challenge, which targets both adults and children and is a program with multiple support options including educational sessions.
Anne Larger, community outreach coordinator for the hospital and organizer of the family challenge, can accept up to 20 families for this program and can be contacted directly at 419-394-6132 for additional information and to sign up as a participant.
The Family Challenge also offers a $1,000 cash prize for the family unit that loses the greatest percentage of their starting weight.
Monthly motivational meetings have been organized by Larger and feature speakers to address different aspects of weight loss and healthier living. The first meeting, on Jan. 9 at Memorial High School, features Joe Piscatella who will address “From Information to Action,” overcoming barriers to healthy living.
Other speakers include Aaron Kuhn on addiction, Kristi Koch on cardiovascular disease and Bruce Boguski on staying motivated.
Throughout the the years, thousands of pounds have been lost during the course of the challenges, and the participants always seem to have a good time working as teams, encouraging each other and sometimes challenging other teams to side bets.
“We know the thought of winning a large cash prize is a great motivator to start the Grand Health Challenge,” Zwez said. “But what we really hope is that folks who sign up to participate can find a new healthy habit to adopt so they can enjoy a longer, healthier life. Weight loss is just one aspect of that effort; maybe this challenge will help jump-start that.”