(Apple Valley)– When Apple Valley Mayor Larry Cusack challenged the residents in his town to lose weight last February, he offered up $1,000 of his own money to back it up. More than 200 people were quick to step on the scale during the initial weigh-ins. On Thursday, 61 competitors remained when the winners were revealed at the first Sunset Concert of the season.
Taking first place in the men’s division was Glenn Bonde, who lost 28.28% of his bodyweight during the four-month competition. The top competitor among the women was ValerieForker, who lost 20.73% of her body weight. Because of the generous community partners that provided additional funding, each first place competitor walked away with $1,000 cash and an 18-month gym membership from Apple Valley Express Fitness. Mayor Cusack added a $250 “Mayor’s Money” bonus to Forker’s prize, an offer he made early on if the top performing woman beat his weight loss percentage.
Jerry Verhague and Emily Vizzini came in a close second losing 26.10% and 20.47% of their bodyweight, respectively. They earned $500 each along with a 12-month Apple Valley Express Fitness membership for their efforts.
Danny Martinez, who lost 23.75% and Alicia Brown, who lost 19.85%, received $250 and a 6-month Apple Valley Express Fitness gym membership for coming in third place.
In addition to the Mayor’s money, Heritage Victor Valley Medical Group, Top Notch Networking, and St. Joseph Health, St. Mary’s provided a total of $2,500 in additional funds that were distributed to the winners at the finale ceremony.
“Part of my motivation was my personal health goals. I’m extremely competitive and motivated by this type of challenge,” explained Cusack. “While they took me up on my challenge to ‘win the mayor’s money,’ I was a close 4th place.” Cusack lost 16.34%, just 2.8 pounds short of his goal of 50 pounds.
Falling under the umbrella of the Town’s Healthy Apple Valley initiative, the Mayor’s Weight Loss Challenge was the first of its kind in Apple Valley. Men and women walked, swam and cooked their way to incredible milestones, all for the sake of living better, healthier lives. In all, the remaining 61 competitors lost 1,070 pounds. The weight loss by all challengers from the beginning totaled 1,802 pounds.
A weekly newsletter and Facebook group kept members on track for monthly weigh-ins, special events, and healthy recipes to try. Challengers have taken advantage of a free 3-month membership to Apple Valley Express Fitness and joined the Mayor in a monthly walk around Civic Center Park. They were also invited to try out lap swimming for free, and several participants won monthly passes for lap swim and water fitness classes.
In addition to the prize money, contestants who reached milestones such as losing 5% and 10% of their body weight were eligible for incentive drawings of FitBit fitness monitors, free gym memberships and other prizes that were announced during the contest finale.
“This is really about encouraging healthy habits to last a lifetime,” said Cusack. “The response was even greater than I expected and to hear the stories of how this impacted lives is very gratifying.”