Weight-loss challenge nets award for organizer

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — When Bonnie Stehr decided she wanted to lose 50 pounds as a Christmas gift to herself in 2011, she had no idea she was about to begin a campaign in 2012 that would lead to a group of people collectively losing more than 1,000 pounds — and this month, her efforts resulted in an award from a national magazine.

“It was a real shock,” Stehr, a Port Angeles resident, said Thursday of the award from WebMD magazine.

WebMD.com and the December issue of the magazine announced this week that Stehr was selected as one of four 2012 Health Heroes award winners.

Organized challenge

Stehr, who works at Therapeutic Associates and volunteers with Volunteers in Medicine of the Olympics — or VIMO — coordinated with the two health groups to come up with the Olympic Weight Loss Challenge — an effort to increase the fitness and health of community members while raising funds for VIMO.

This year's challenge, which began in January, resulted in 124 entries, most of whom shed an average of 19.6 pounds — for a total of 1,255.7 pounds.

VIMO received $4,005 from that contest.

A co-worker at Therapeutic Associates nominated her for the award but never told Stehr about it.

When WebMD contacted Stehr in September to tell her she had won and schedule a television interview, it was a complete surprise, she said.

Stehr was asked to keep the award under wraps until this week's official unveiling.

Stehr said she will present a $2,500 check from WebMD to Larry Little, executive director of VIMO.

The check was part of the WebMD Health Hero award, written to a charity of Stehr's choice.

Stehr, who has multiple sclerosis, said she thinks her diagnosis is part of the reason for her selection.

“They like to choose people who are overcoming health issues,” she said.

Stehr said she will not be resting on her laurels.

New challenge

A new Olympic Weight Loss Challenge is slated to begin Jan. 5, with registration and the official weigh-in from 9 a.m. to noon at Therapeutic Associates, 1114 Georgiana St.

The entry fee will be $100 per person, or $50 per person for a couple or pair challenge.

During the contest, classes in nutrition and fitness will be offered to competitors, Stehr said.

The final weigh-in will take place April 27.

In this year's first challenge, prizes were awarded to men and women in three age groups.

The 2013 challenge will mix age groups, with three prizes awarded to men and three to women.

The prizes will be based on the percentage of body weight shed.

First prize will be $500, second prize will be $350, and the third-place finisher will receive $200.

In this year's challenge, the largest amount of weight was lost by two men in the 50-and-older age group, though only one prize could be awarded because both were in the same age bracket.

“It proves you don't have to be a 25-year-old to lose weight,” Stehr said.

Once the prizes are distributed, half of the remainder of the funds will be donated to VIMO, and all competitors who lose at least 5 percent of their body weight will split the remaining pot.

This year, the pot resulted in a payout of $92 for each person who lost 5 percent of his or her body weight, Stehr said.

For more information about VIMO and its clinic at 909 E. Georgiana St. in Port Angeles, visit www.vimoclinic.org or phone the clinic at 360-457-4431.

________

Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 15. 2012 5:52PM
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