The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 13, 2014

Area you ready for the Mankato Meltdown?

Community-wide event aims to help people lose weight, get healthy

By Robb Murray
The Mankato Free Press

---- — To most, the Mankato Meltdown will be a time of getting in shape, losing weight and eating healthfully all under the guise of friendly competition.

But for Kristen Flowers, it’s a little more serious than that.

“I’m 39 and I’ve had three heart attacks in the last 18 months,” Flowers said. “I have advanced heart disease. So, for me, it really is more important than a prize.”

Flowers along with with Sandra Oachs, Kari Young and Michelle Berger will be among the dozens of teams competing in the inaugural Mankato Meltdown event. The goal is a simple one: lose weight.

The event is community wide and carries an impressive list of sponsors. Mayo Clinic Health System and the new Planet Fitness are among the major sponsors, and the idea originated in the Free Press advertising department. The Mankato Meltdown will run 12 weeks with teams competing in groups of four. Teams will weigh in Jan. 15 at the Mankato Event Center (across from the downtown Buffalo Wild Wings location) and then report progress weekly. At the end, the team with the highest percentage of body weight lost will win. Registration fee is $10 per person, half of which will go to the Backpack Food Program.

Flowers said they’ll most likely call they team the Dwindling Divas, a nod to the hope that, by the end of the competition, there will be “less” of them.

“The four of us girls have been friends for many years,” she said. “Doing it with my friends just makes it a lot easier for me.”

Flowers says she’s always looking for new ways to motivate herself. But at this point in her life, she says, it’s time to start taking her weight more seriously.

Meltdown sponsors are hoping this promotion can help people such as Flowers in a positive way.

Ginny Bergerson, advertising manager at The Free Press, is the brains behind the Mankato Meltdown. She said they tried a similar promotion when she worked at the newspaper in Waseca. It was called the “Waseca Weigh In,” and she was surprised how well the community embraced the idea. The kick-off event took place on a day when Mother Nature delivered a blizzard to the community. Still, 160 people braved the elements to sign up to lose weight.

Doing a similar event here, Bergerson said, is just good for the community.

“For years I’ve wanted to get Mankato healthier,” she said. “This kind of thing seemed like a natural fit.”

To participate, your entire team must come to that kick-off event, set for Jan. 15 at the Mankato Event Center. There, all team members will be weighed and have their photos taken. There will also be vendors at the event, including representatives from the Mankato Marathon, who will be encouraging people to sign up for one of their many running races.

Mayo Clinic Health System will also be there.

“At Mayo Clinic Health System, we are focused on promoting healthy lifestyles in our community, and weight loss is a chief component in achieving better health and well-being,” MCHS Regional President and CEO Greg Kutcher said in a statement. “The Mankato Meltdown is a fun and exciting way to engage community members in fitness activities, improved nutrition and overall healthier living.”

So far, Bergerson says the buzz surrounding the event seems to be building.

On Facebook, she’s already seeing teams forming, and pairs finding other pairs to create the required four for a team. Excitement, she says, is building. They’re expecting 800 people — and possibly many more — to take part.

“I don’t know where this is going to go,” she said. “I hope we can handle it.”