In six weeks, many people will get "a second chance to live."
The third annual Walk Away Obesity event, a program geared to help people lose weight by walking together and improving their eating habits, will have an additional component for the ambitious: a six-week weight loss challenge in which the biggest loser will receive a cash prize.
The challenge began with an official weigh-in day on Monday, and the winner will be announced on July 19.
More than 75 people weighed in at the start of the event. Those interested in participating may still weigh in at the Physician Center Hospital (Suite 240), 3131 University Drive in Bryan. The cost to register is $10.
"Once these people realize they're not alone, they're no longer ashamed and their self-esteem starts to rise," said Bryan resident Carolyn Nichols, founder of Walk Away Obesity.
Two years ago, Nichols weighed almost 400 pounds and struggled with diabetes and high blood pressure.
"I walked that path myself and when obese people see me they see hope," said Nichols, who now weighs just over 100 pounds. "I'm trying to help people in my community lose weight like I did. They no longer have to live trapped in the house or worry about having someone to work out with and not feel ashamed about it."
All are welcome to join the walks to provide encouragement and support for the competitors. There is no cost to attend, though donations will be accepted. The walks will take place weekly at Jane Long Middle School, 1106 N. Harvey Mitchell Parkway in Bryan, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
"The healthy and the toned will help us [see] what we've got to look forward to," Nichols said.
Despite its effectiveness and increasing popularity, the most challenging aspect of putting on the event is finding sponsors, said Nichols, who has been funding it out of pocket each year.
"I know where I came from, and this obesity awareness event is important to me," she said. "I want to make this big."
For more information, contact Nichols at 979-731-3208 or join the Walk Away Obesity group on Facebook.