Amy Cunningham
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Price Chopper issued a simple challenge to Kansas City Metro-Area families:  Get fit and lead a

Members of the DeForest family, Gardner, pose for publicity shots before taking part in the KC Fit Challenge. They are mom, Cassandra, dad Chris and children Grace and Nate.Submitted photo

healthier lifestyle, and, in doing so you just may win yourself $1,000 in groceries and an all-expenses paid cruise.

Price Chopper consultant Jody Hanson explained that the winning family will be judged by three criteria:  a panel of fitness and nutrition experts from Saint Luke’s Health Center will evaluate the healthy lifestyle changes each family makes, the number of Facebook fans on the family’s personal pages, and consumer voting at Price Chopper stores.

Out of more than 2,000 applicants, the DeForest family of Gardner was chosen as one of three families in the metro to participate in the 12-week contest and they have hit the ground running.
A week after starting competition the family’s Facebook fanpage has 344 “likes”, but they’ve also made important diet and physical fitness improvements. After attending a kick-off event, the family received individual consultations with fitness and nutrition experts from Saint Luke’s.

The families have also attended presentations by social workers to  help get them mentally prepared for their lifestyle changes.

“It’s a lot of time, but it’s fun and a lot of good opportunities for us,” said participant Cassandra DeForest, who explained that she has struggled with weight management issues in the past. “We’re living and breathing Fit KC.”

She said that getting healthier had long been a goal for her and husband Chris.  They hope to set a good example for their six year old son, Nate, and nearly three year old daughter, Grace.

“We’re both obese, and our families are obese,” DeForest said.  “If our kids never have to deal with this issue it would be enough for us.  But, it is very exciting to think that by May 20th I may be close to my goal weight. At the end of the day, even if we come in third, if we help our kids learn to be healthy that would be enough for us.”

The DeForests, Saint Luke’s and Price Chopper are hopeful the family’s story will inspire neighbors to take better care of themselves.  According to Cassandra, her family faces many of the same challenges that plague  other American families; they’re hardworking, busy people who come from families with weight issues.

All the participants will be sharing their journey on their Facebook pages so the community will be able to follow along.

“We’re hoping people will be inspired by what these three families are able to do and that their energy and enthusiasm for an improved lifestyle will be contagious,” said Kerry O’Connor of Saint Luke’s. “Today’s families are very, very busy and stressed and it’s hard to find time to cook nutritional meals and excise – but I think this is a neat approach.  We were thrilled for this kind of response.  These families are awesome and very engaged.”

Hanson said that the store was inspired to create the contest because Kansas City earned the dismal honor of being named the 6th most obese city by Men’s Health Magazine.

“We hope to steer Kansas City on a healthy nutritional course and educate Kansas Citians on the importance of leading a healthier lifestyle,” she said.