Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Log in


You are here: Home / Newsroom / News Stories / ARCHIVED News Stories / ARCHIVED: 2013 News Stories / TCF's Wolf Pack wins Governor's Weight Loss Challenge

TCF's Wolf Pack wins Governor's Weight Loss Challenge

by admin last modified Jul 07, 2015 02:10 PM
A group of corrections officers from Topeka Correctional Facility claimed first place in the Governor’s Weight Loss Challenge, receiving a $5,000 prize for dropping more than 19 percent of their collective weight.
TCF's Wolf Pack wins Governor's Weight Loss Challenge

A TCF team took top honors for losing the most weight in the Governor's health challenge.

The Wolf Pack, one of more than a thousand teams across the state, shed 264.5 pounds during the four-month competition launched by Governor Sam Brownback in January to encourage state employees to be more health conscious.

Tom Blankenship, Karen Chmidling, Dara Heineken, Ashley Wilson, and team captain David Vennell all
work the night shift as corrections officers at the women’s correctional facility in Topeka. They decided to accept the governor’s challenge and held each other accountable to a healthier diet and increased exercise.

“I’m so proud of you for the work you’ve done,” Brownback told the members of the Wolf Pack at a reception in the state capitol Tuesday. “You’re a good, inspiring group and you’ve obviously helped each other along the way.”

The Wolf Pack edged out the Fort Scott Finishers of the Department of Transportation, who dropped 291.7 pounds, but came in second with 18.98% lost.

KDOC was well represented in the competition. In 6th place was the Healthy HCF C.O.’s. They lost 172 pounds/14.18%. In 10th place was the team Clearly Motivated, which combined to lose 125 pounds/12.01%.

In all, KDOC and JJA entered 72 teams, which lost a combined 4,593.29 pounds. The agency’s teams averaged a loss of 63.8 pounds.

The state as a whole lost 44,409 pounds – more than 22 tons. KDOC teams were especially successful in the contest. Though KDOC teams made up just 7 percent of teams in the competition, they outpaced the state average by losing 10.34 percent of the state’s total weight lost.

“I want to congratulate the teams that showed the discipline to finish so well in the challenge,” said KDOC Secretary Ray Roberts. “They will reap the rewards not only in their professional lives, but in their personal lives for years to come.”

The members of the Wolf Pack discussed the keys to their success, as well as their greatest challenges, with Brownback, whose own team was bested by 183 other teams in the state. They said they motivated each other to put their memberships at exercise facilities to use, and they challenged each other to avoid unhealthy food options.

“For me, it was hard at first to change what I was eating, and I didn’t like that,” Brownback told the group. “But once I got used to that part of it, I adjusted and it wasn’t so bad.”

In addition to cash prizes to the top two finishers, there were drawings for the teams that finished ahead of Brownback’s team. Prizes worth $44,500 were donated by Coventry Health Care, UnitedHealth Group and Kansas Beverage Association.

Brownback and Kansas Health and Environment Secretary Robert Moser, M.D., who is also the State Health Officer, announced that a new challenge is forthcoming – “Move Across Kansas.” The program will encourage activity as a follow-up to the weight loss challenge.

“I hope this is a turning point for a lot of people’s lives,” said Brownback.

The group of corrections officers faced a particular obstacle in that they work from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. at the women’s facility. They admitted that they were in the habit of snacking throughout the night. Some members of the team had become accustomed to drinking several energy drinks during their shifts.

“After I changed my eating habits, the weight came off fast for a while,” said Chmidling. “But then I hit a plateau where just eating healthy wasn’t doing it, and that was hard to work through.”

The members of the Wolf Pack said that the challenge has changed their lives.

Chmidling said that she will have to use some of the prize money to buy new clothes, because much of her current wardrobe no longer fits. Vennell said he may use the prize money to purchase a second car for his family.

“It’s given us the ability to respond to the things we have to do in our jobs better,” said Vennell, who along with Blankenship, works in a segregation unit that has lots of stairs. “We’re able to be a better presence because we feel better and we look more fit.”

“I have a lot more energy, which allows me to keep up better with my child,” said a smiling Wilson.

Document Actions