At almost every level, the numbers are impressive. At the first weigh-in in early January, 179 people showed up to participate.
Of those, 69 came back for the final weigh-in during the first week of May. The grand total of pounds lost: 1,417.4. That’s about 20.5 per participant.
Ten people who weighed in at the end of the contest actually had gained some weight—an average of 2.5 pounds.
Stan Williams, Marion, was the biggest loser, dropping from 268 pounds to 171—a whopping 97 pounds, which was 36 percent of his body weight.
Each participants paid an entry fee of $20, which helped cover the cost of handouts on diet and exercise routines that each participant received.
A portion of the entry money also went toward cash prizes for the top three losers. Williams came away with a $1,725 payday while Thurston collected $850 for second and Jirak $425 for third.
“If I had known going in that we would have had this much money, and if I hadn’t handed out the (contest) rules ahead of time, I would given cash prizes to the top 10 participants,” Rziha said with a shake of her head.
Beyond the number of pounds lost, Rziha is quick to pass on participants’ testimonies about the additional benefits that came with the experience.
She said several middle-age men, who once became winded with even light excursion, are now jogging regularly and some are competing in road races. One is playing ice hockey again—something he hadn’t done for years.
“We’ve got some folks here for whom it’s really been a lifestyle change,” Rziha said. “They feel so much better.
“I’ve had a lot of people say, ‘I haven’t lost that much, but I’m conscious of what I’m doing now and I’m watching what I eat.’ That’s what we hoped to accomplish.”
Rziha said she isn’t necessarily bothered by the fact that nearly two-thirds of the participants who weighed in January but didn’t show up for the final weigh-in in May—even though she attempted to call each one.
Some who didn’t come in for the final weigh-in knew they weren’t in contention for the cash prizes.
“I did have people call,” she said. “One lady said, ‘I only lost 14 pounds, so there’s no reason for me to come in.’ We had some of those out there.”
Even if some simply gave up on the program, Rziha is hopeful that seeds for the future have been planted.
“Hopefully, something we gave them (by way of informational handouts) is going to work for them—that’s the idea behind it” she said.
Top 20 ‘Biggest Losers’
(Based on % of body weight lost)
Name, % lost
1. Stan Williams, 36.0
2. Brent Thurston, 33.1
3. Steve Jirak, 32.0
4. Ron Jirak, 28.4
5. Dan Kinning, 23.7
6. Cathy Martin, 21.8
7. Wendy McCarty, 21.5
8. Debbie Allen, 17.6
9. Joe Wuest, 16.8
10. Eddie Spencer, 15.3
11. Phil Smith, 15.0
12. Faun Bloomer, 13.8
13. Amy Gillet, 13.6
14. Debbie Conner, 13.0
15. Benjamin Wirtz, 12.7
16. Kelly Schafers, 12.6
17. Patrick & Dwight Johnson, 11.8
18. Kris Srajer, 11.7
19. Melissa Zieammermann, 11.0
20. Judy Penner, 10.7