The Health Challenge was initially inspired by GET FIT! Lake Chelan Ben Higgins.
Community member Ben Higgins began his fitness journey almost 10 years ago with a serious medical scare. His cardiologist told the Chelan businessman that he was lucky to be alive and that he could either change his lifestyle or die. “I was a very bad example at the time,” said Higgins. “I ate way too much, and I ate food that was bad for me.”
Higgins took his doctor’s advice to heart. He started walking. The first day he made it around one downtown Chelan block. The next time he tackled two blocks. Before long he was walking three to four miles a day three times a week, which crept to five days, and now Higgins walks every day. “I haven’t missed a day in over seven years,” he said.
When Higgins went back to his cardiologist a year after his medical scare, the doctor didn’t recognize him; he had lost so much weight! Higgins felt better too. “I enjoy life more,” he said, “and I can do things I couldn’t do before. Being more fit made life better for both me and my family.”
After enjoying his improved health and energy for a few years, Higgins decided he needed a little extra motivation. He also wanted to help others get healthier. “I’d seen the show the Biggest Loser,” he said, “and I thought it would be fun to start something like that here, but with no one getting thrown out.”
Higgins bought T-shirts, put up prize money and paid for participants’ first month gym membership at Lake Chelan Fitness. The program was a success. Participants lose weight, and the motivation helped Higgins stay fit. When he went out, people asked him how far he had walked or what he had eaten that day. He got on the radio every Monday morning and reported his weight. “Good, bad or ugly,” he said. “And it made me more accountable.”
Higgins hopes community fitness challenge will encourage people to eat better and move more. He knows from experience that physical health makes a big difference in life. “When I feel good physically, it makes everything else seem better too,” he said.
Lake Chelan Community Hospital first partnered with Ben in 2012, and the annual challenge has continued to evolve as we look for new ways to inspire and help build a healthy community and provide wellness opportunities for the Lake Chelan valley.
The annual health challenge continues to be funded by the Lake Chelan Health and Wellness Foundation and supported by Lake Chelan Community Hospital.