WESTSHORE — Eight weeks of exercise, health seminars and healthy eating paid off for North Olmsted resident Andrew Tischler. Not only did he lose 25 pounds, earning him the title of the “biggest loser,” he helped push the city of North Olmsted to the top of the North Olmsted, Rocky River and Fairview Park “North Rock Park 8-Week Health Challenge.”

The challenge, which started Jan. 31, was done in conjunction with The Cleveland Clinic and the mayors of the three cities. Residents signed up for the free program to learn how to eat healthier and incorporate regular exercise into their lives.

The eight-week health challenge was part of the Healthy Communities Initiative, a collaborative effort between the Clinic and community partners to promote optimal health and wellness. The recreation center in each of the three cities offered different group exercise sessions, walking groups and health education.

Participants received points for each activity and exercise times at the Don Umerley Civic Center in Rocky River, the Gemini Center in Fairview Park, and the North Olmsted Recreation Center.

From all three cities, 75 people finished by participating in the final screening, held March 14, and recorded a total group weight loss of 261 pounds. Of that total, North Olmsted had 34 people finish, pushing them to first place. Fairview Park came in second place, followed by Rocky River.

“I saw the challenge on a flyer,” Tischler, 32, said. “I had already begun trying to lose weight in June, but had hit a plateau. I had hoped this would push me over the plateau and keep me going in the right direction.”

“It worked!” he said, adding that having a 2-year-old, a soon-to-be 1-year-old and a third child on the way made attending lectures and classes more difficult than he had anticipated. “My wife (Erica) has been really supportive. She wanted to join it, too, but couldn’t because of the pregnancy.

“We consider our first tri-city health challenge a success,” said Rosemary Miles, community relations program manager for the Clinic. “The number of participants exceeded our expectations, and our community recreation centers were invaluable in engaging residents from all three cities. The challenge helped to showcase each center’s capabilities. Our other partners, such as Heinen’s and the public libraries, also were important contributors to the effort. We look forward to another challenge in 2020. All three mayors already have promised their support.”

Here is a list of challenge winners by city:

Fairview Park

First Prize: Wave Room and pool party for up to 25 people to Wayne Bartlett, who had 324 points

Second Prize: $50 in Gemini Bucks for Julie Waddell, with 312 points

Third Prize: $25 in Gemini Bucks for Patti Smith, with 300.4 points

North Olmsted

Winners all get year-long recreation center memberships

First Prize: Phil Ungerer with 437 points

Second Prize: Julie Kiefer, 422 points

Third Prize: Laura Ungerer, 415 points

Fourth Prize: Julia Furdui, 397 points

Fifth Prize: Aileen Krauss, 339 points

Sixth Prize: Sue Farkas, 333 points

Rocky River

First Prize: Dante Giampaolo, 459 points, six-month civic center membership

Second Prize, Kris Myers, 261 points, 10-visit punch pass, good for water and fitness classes

Third Prize: John Savage, 230 points, $50 in Rec Bucks

Biggest Loser Prize: Andrew Tischler, 25.6 pounds lost, $50 cash awarded by Fairview Hospital.

Trophy for the healthiest city goes to North Olmsted. The trophy will sit at either the city’s recreation center or City Hall for the next year, when the winner of the 2020 health challenge might steal it away.

The purpose of the challenge, according to its organizers, was to promote a healthy approach to eating and exercise. For Tischler, that point found a home.

“It’s been a huge lifestyle change,” said Tischler, who said he intends to continue eating healthy and exercising. “I hope to reach my goal of losing 40 pounds.”

Contact this reporter at editor@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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