Blues' Community Challenge participants collectively log a record-breaking 208,862 miles in eight-week Winter Warm-Up program

Blue Cross awards nine Lansing municipalities nearly $10,000 in wellness grants

March 15, 2012

LANSING, MICH. — Inspiration and community support fueled participation in this year’s Winter Warm-Up and Blues Community Challenge at the Lansing Mall. There was a 40-percent jump in the number of Greater Lansing residents who took part in the free, eight-week walking and physical activity competition.

Designed to promote health and physical fitness, the initiative featured competition among nine Greater Lansing communities, who vied for community wellness grants from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Grants were awarded to all participating teams, with the larger grants going to municipal teams whose members logged the most miles of physical activity.

During the challenge period, Jan. 21 through March 20, 2,396 people from nine different Lansing communities collectively logged 208,862 miles (or the equivalent of 7,942 completed marathons).

The competition proved to be a life-changing event for Lansing resident Nancy Diawara. She has struggled with weight loss most of her life, said she’s done with fad diets and spending tons of money on exercise equipment that ends up collecting dust. Diawara has a 6-year-old son and wants to stay healthy and active so she can play an active role in his life. “I do much better with motivation, and Winter Warm-Up motivated me to get on track with exercising on a regular basis. I want exercise to be a part of my life, like brushing my teeth. I want to train my body to enjoy it and look forward to being active."

Lynda Hyde from St. Johns tearfully shared her story at the celebration event March10. When she first registered for Winter Warm-Up and the Blues’ Community Challenge, she could not walk for more than three or four minutes or finish the course at Lansing Mall. She is now walking 15 to17 minutes and can walk in a swimming pool for up to an hour. She no longer needs a cane and is motivated to continue exercising. “It’s amazing how everything just seemed to line up, how each piece just fell into place. I feel like it is just meant to happen at this time in my life. It is now the time for me to lose weight,” Hyde said.

Fred Garrett of Grand Ledge is also an avid participant in the Blues Community Challenge. A heart attack in 2007 changed his life. After cardiac rehabilitation to strengthen his heart, Garrett revamped his diet and incorporated exercise into his daily life. He lost 40 pounds and now walks regularly. Garrett and his wife Beth received the Healthy Living Promoter award, a recognition element new to this year’s program. Individuals who promote wellness and encourage healthy living were nominated by each of their municipalities.

BCBSM awarded a $3,000 grant to the city of Lansing, a first-time winner in the Challenge. Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is a big supporter of the initiative and was instrumental in developing the Mayor’s Challenge in 2006. "The Winter Warm-Up helps get us up and moving every winter. I always look forward to it. We are very excited and grateful to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and will put our award dollars toward the Youth Recreational Scholarship, which allows youth 18 and under to participate in sports and recreation activities," said Bernero.

Additional BCBSM grants to support public health and wellness projects went to the following municipalities:

  • City of Charlotte, $2,000
  • Delhi Township, $1,000.
  • City of East Lansing, $750
  • Delta Township, $750
  • City of St. Johns, $750
  • City of Grand Ledge, $500
  • Lansing Township, $500
  • City of Williamston, $500

“This community initiative has grown substantially every year. It is very gratifying to see how people are changing their lives. For some it is, literally, one step at a time. Working collaboratively with Community Partners in Health allows us to get involved at a grassroots level and build healthier communities together,” said Shelley DuFort, senior community liaison for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Community Partners in Health is a coalition of Greater Lansing-area organizations and groups who work together to promote health and fitness through nutrition and regular physical activity. For more information, visit

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit organization, provides and administers health benefits to nearly 4.3 million members residing in Michigan in addition to members of Michigan-headquartered groups who reside outside the state. BCBSM also offers dental, vision and hearing plans. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are nonprofit corporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit

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