"Get Lean in 2013!" is the call to arms (ahem) and to backs and guts, butts, quads, hams and calves for this year's Community Health Challenge.
The sixth annual health and community centered competition gets underway Sunday, Jan. 6 with a kick-off event, open to the public, that hopes to rally the community to take part in the three-month challenge that encourages people to achieve a healthier lifestyle and to get more people active in our community.
Already causing a stir in the community is event organizers announcement that Olympic runner and Dawson native Carrie Tollefson will be the keynote speaker at this year's kick-off event, which begins at 3:30 p.m. at the Yellow Medicine East High School auditorium.
"It's exciting. We're all really looking forward to hearing (Tollefson) speak. We really want people to know that it's open to the public. So, if you want to just come and hear her speak, or if you've already got a team, or if you're on the fence about getting involved, just come on down," said Kilowatt Community Center Director Nick Richter.
Richter also pointed out that there would be supervised day care with the YME gymnasium being open for kids during the event.
As an athlete, Tollefson earned 13 State Championships at Dawson-Boyd: eight state titles in track and five in cross country. Her five straight cross country titles established a national record that stands to this day. She attended Villanova University, where she won five individual NCAA championships and was a member of the 1999 NCAA Cross Country Championship team. In 1998, Tollefson was named NCAA Indoor Track Athlete of the Year and was the first person in NCAA history to win both the 3k and 5k titles.
As a professional, Tollefson earned three National Championship titles (USA Track and Field Cross Country 4k, USATF Indoor Championships 3k and the USATF Olympic Trials 1500m). After winning the trials in 2004, she earned the right to represent her country in Athens, Greece in the 2004 Summer Olympic Games.
Currently, Tollefson lives in Minnesota, hosts the weekly show 'C Tolle Run', acts as a commentator/announcer for several national running events and engages in public speaking and running focused training camps for both youth and adults.
"Yeah, it's a pretty big deal to be able to bring someone like Carrie Tollefson out here," said Richter. "Countryside Public Health and (CPH Coordinator) Cindy Skulstad made that happen. They really went above and beyond."
As for the Challenge, again, over $2,000 is on the line. Last year, 52 teams (208 individuals) participated in the annual weight loss competition. Over 2,730 pounds were lost. Also in line with the competition, 1,486 items and $733 were donated to the local food shelf. And 100 units of blood were donated to the Red Cross.
Page 2 of 2 - The basics of the health challenge are simple. The cost of the challenge is $40 a team. Those four person teams (and families are encouraged to participate) will collect points both for their weight loss and for participating in community events over the course of 12 weeks. Besides looking and feeling better, the reward could be a cash prize, roughly: $1,000 for first place, $750 for second place and $500 for third place.
In the challenge, each percentage point of weight a team losses equates to 100 points. Teams also score points by completing the following; attending the kick-off event on Jan. 6, donating blood, attending 'Pack the Gym Days' at the KCC, donating food to the local food shelf, attending weekly weigh-ins and participating in the 'Health Challenge 3k Run/Walk'.
Up to the kick-off event, possible participants are asked to pick up registration and rule sheets at the Kilowatt Community Center, the YME Community Ed. office, or at the Advocate Tribune.
All ages are welcome to participate.
Weigh-ins will be held on Thursdays at the KCC, Bert Raney Elementary, the Granite Falls Hospital and Countryside Public Health. Final team registration is also due at these four sites by Monday, Jan. 14.