There’s one thing every Michigan resident can likely agree on: winters are frigid. We kick off each New Year with steadfast resolutions that too often get plowed to the side with the first snowfall.
Not for Winter Warm Up participants.
For more than a decade, Blue Cross has sponsored Lansing’s Winter Warm Up challenge to help mid-Michigan residents stay active and healthy through the winter. The program is supported by Community Partners in Health, a coalition of 24 local organizations and municipalities dedicated to building healthier, stronger communities.
Since inception in 2003, the Winter Warm Up evolved from a walking program to a community-wide competition, with teams competing to track the most physical activity. This year, the Winter Warm Up launched a new challenge: the Blue Cross Community Couch-to-5K.
The Blue Cross Community Couch-to-5K program was designed to provide extra support to residents looking to take their first step toward fitness in 2016. The free, eight-week program included bi-weekly training sessions with certified Good Form coaches from the Playmakers Fitness Foundation.
Hundreds of participants of all ages and abilities trained with their local community team in Charlotte, Delhi Township, Delta Township, Dewitt, East Lansing, Lansing, St. Johns or Williamston. Through rain and snow, Winter Warm Up participants came together with a common goal: complete a 5K. This past weekend, they finally crossed the finish line.
"Someone told me kids who see their parents exercise are much more likely to be healthy and active themselves. I want my kids to grow up seeing exercise as fun - and this program was a great way to show them that. The couch to 5K challenge brought all kinds of people together from the community, and it was fun to be part of that team." – Jodi Ackerman, who ran the 5K with her one-year-old son, husband and dog. Her older son, 12, ran the 5K with friends.
“Last summer I went to Boston and tried to climb a memorial, and I couldn’t make it. I was with my two daughters and just thought ‘this can’t happen.’ I needed to be in better shape. When this program came up, I joined it with four of my friends, but said I will never run. And now I’m running. I’ve actually signed up for three more 5Ks after this.” – Lisa Lupini
“It’s been nice to have the support of my team and coaches. I’ve not only learned how to walk, but also how to run. Maybe I’ll be able to even run a half marathon soon.” - Ivona Cristi
“I had minor knee work done, and I was afraid I’d never be able to get back to running again. My coaches made sure I didn’t do too much too quick, and I’ve learned so much. Not only did I start running again, but I made so many friends. Now my team is talking about how to keep meeting up to run. It’s great to have the support of a group." – Annette Irwin, running her first 5K since her knee surgery.
“Anyone can go out and run, but to have a coach behind you to teach you the right way to run is pretty awesome,” said Jennifer Packowski. “We don’t usually do things like this,” daughter Bethany laughed. “But now our group is going to keep running together – maybe we’ll join more 5Ks.” In this picture, Jennifer and Bethany had just completed their first 5K.
“What a great family opportunity. I just love that Blue Cross is sponsoring something like this. What a fun way to get fit together, and it was right here in our community.” – Sonji Revis, pictured with daughter Kendalyn.
“I was planning another knee replacement, and knew if you go in good you come out good. I was hardly able to walk, so I thought this program was a good place to start. It took everything out of me just to get started, but I’ve been improving and improving. Now I’m up to two miles.” – Jim Collinson, pictured with wife Jane.
“It’s hard to get off the couch sometimes, especially in the winter. I joined the program to help get the family healthy.” – Jamie Forrest, who participated in the program with her three children.
In this picture, daughter Lily runs by her younger sister, Alex, cheering her on as Alex pushes to finish her first 5K.
This post is part of a storytelling series we call, “Beyond the Card.” These stories will feature Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan members, employees, and communities who are making meaningful differences throughout our state.
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Photo Credit: larsjuh