MADRAS, Ore. - What do you get when you bring a former personal trainer and a registered nurse together with the desire to make people healthier?
In Madras and Warm Springs, it's the Moving Mountains Slimdown Challenge -- a 16-week event that is expected to draw several hundred participants.
"Studies out there show us ranked kind of low in the county rankings when it comes to health and stuff, and so it's huge for our community," challenge co-founder Carolyn Harvey said Thursday. "We need to be healthier."
Jefferson County health officials told NewsChannel 21 the county's obesity rate was 29 percent in 2010. And according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Jefferson County is the most unhealthy county is Oregon.
So Harvey and St. Charles-Madras nurse Beth Ann Beamer decided it was time to get the overweight county back on the right track.
They started their own Biggest Loser-style challenge three years ago, something tey say the community has embraced.
"It's so exciting for our community that we have so many people out here who want to support everybody to see some really good. -- You know, getting people into some really good lifestyle changes," Harvey said.
Local businesses and organizations are joining in, providing free fitness, goal-setting and nutrition classes , as well as fun outings like hiking for participants.
It all helped Erin Tofte lose 36 pounds during last year's challenge, earning her second place.
"I figured it would be a good way to have that accountability, as far as weighing in, and the measurements are especially hard to do," Tofte said.
Tofte said she feels like a new person: "I can jump now, I can run -- I just finished a 10K."
Now Tofte is back this year to do it again. She lost a total of 55 pounds last year and wants to shed 35 more, for good.
"I think we're really lucky to have some really committed people in our community who care about health and weight-loss," Tofte said.
Harvey said, "It's very rewarding to us. And if you help just one person at some point in your life ... turn the corner and say, 'This is how I'm going to live my life' -- I mean ,that's what it's all about."
Harvey said this challenge is less about losing the weight, and more focused on gaining a new and healthier lifestyle.
If you want to get involved you have only until Saturday to sign up. The challenge costs $25 to participate, and comes with community activities.
Weigh-ins will be at St. Charles-Madras and the community center in Warm Springs.
Winners of the weight-loss challenge could win up to $1000,000.
For more information, contact St. Charles-Madras, the Madras Aquatic Center or the Jefferson County Health Department. You can visit this Website for more information.