Melvindale proves it had something to lose

Sunday Times Newspapers

MELVINDALE — Melvindale beat out 10 other cities in metropolitan Detroit to become the winner in a Weight Watchers weight-loss challenge.

The free weight-loss event had more than 200 participants competing in 34 six-member teams. Melvindale officially entered 30 participants broken into five teams.

Collectively, the group of 30 residents from Melvindale lost almost 270 pounds combined to end the last week of weigh-ins.

The city was approached by the weight loss company to participate in the challenge against 15 teams from the State of Michigan-Detroit Branch and other teams from other cities around southeastern Michigan including Dearborn Heights, Center Line and Hamtramck. The challenge was part of company’s Healthy Communities Grant Initiative.

Weight Watchers said pilot initiative, started in January, was to “recognize and assist cities that have existing healthy lifestyle programming to help them build upon successful strategies for healthy eating, physical activity, and weight loss and management.”

“The challenge triggered a large amount of interest from the community,” Mayor Stacey Striz said. “Because, who doesn’t want to look and feel their best?”

Yvonne Kollmorgan, executive secretary for the mayor, helped Striz gather entries over a two-day period.

“This is a small community and we are all very competitive. The excitement spread like wildfire,” said Kollmorgen. “For weeks, everyone had been talking about how they wanted to get healthier and then here comes Weight Watchers.”

Because of the excitement among other residents, who missed the deadline, a city-wide weight loss challenge was created for those who wanted to participate but missed the signup. The city organized its own challenge and set up weekly workouts and events to help other residents lead healthier lives.

“We’re doing community walks, community Zumba,” Kollmorgen said. “We have another 25 people outside of the Weight Watchers competition participating in that. We are a community serious about getting healthy.”

Weight Watchers International will hold an open house for the May 22. Florine Mark, president and CEO of WW Group, will make a personal appearance to present the city with a $1,000 grant.

Events will include cooking demonstrations from Mark’s personal chef and an exercise expert will be on hand presenting easy exercises for work and home. HAP will offer free blood pressure checks, and raffles and a disc jockey are expected as well. Anyone is welcome to attend the event.

“There has been a lot of talk about the rising costs of obesity, but not enough action,” Mark said. “We are very serious about wanting to help Michigan residents get healthy. As a proven program, we are trying to make a real difference with this initiative, but we’re also trying to have a little fun along the way.”

(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at