MILWAUKEE, WI – Healthy competition can be a strong motivator for anyone aiming to improve their wellness. Members of TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, were recently celebrated for their weight-loss efforts at its annual three-day event, International Recognition Days (IRD). This year’s event took place July 5 through July 7 in San Diego. The festivity honored TOPS award winners who, with determination, perseverance, and support from fellow members, achieved the greatest weight loss in their category in 2011.
Julie Vanden Berg of Zeeland, Mich., was crowned 2011 International Queen with an incredible total weight loss of 214.75 pounds. Kevin Carter of Botwood, Newfoundland, 2011 International King, lost an equally impressive total of 203 pounds. Royalty are those individuals who, at the end of the year, have officially recorded the largest weight loss from their original, starting weight to goal weight, regardless of the time taken to reach goal.
“I had lost weight many times in my life but never quite made it to a goal before stopping, for whatever reason – and the weight would always gradually come back on,” says Vanden Berg. “In January 2010, I once again decided I was going lose weight once and for all. I knew it was going to be a long journey, and that I would need help. I attended my first TOPS meeting and felt welcome right away. The weekly accountability, affordable membership dues, incentives and contests, and friendly support worked wonderfully for me. By the end of the first year, I had lost over 160 pounds and made my goal weight at the end of 2011. But I never had a single weight gain during my entire journey. I wore out two exercise bikes and several pairs of shoes while walking and biking thousands of miles. You wouldn’t have looked at me two and a half years ago and seen someone with the will and determination to lose over 200 pounds. But, by the grace of God, the support of my TOPS chapter, as well as my wonderful family and friends, I found that determination within me!”
Carter notes, “I joined TOPS in July 2010 weighing nearly 400 pounds. When I walked into that first meeting, it was one of the biggest steps I ever had to take in my life. I was so embarrassed that I had let myself get that heavy and that they had to use a special scale to weigh me. My blood pressure was 150/100. I was prone to chest infections that would last two months at a time. I was very much afraid that I was going to have a heart attack, stroke, or that it would be the end for me. But after my first two weeks as a TOPS member, I had lost 20 pounds, and the weight kept coming off week after week. I changed many things in my life, like exercising more, cooking healthier, and practicing portion control. I weighed myself daily, and if I hit a weight-loss plateau, I would kick things in high gear and do a little harder workout to boost my metabolism. These changes in my lifestyle are the reason I am still here today! I’ve since lost more than 200 pounds, which took a lot of hard work and dedication. It wasn’t easy, but with the support of TOPS and the ‘know how’ and joy of working together as TOPS members to reach our individual goals, I did it.”
“It is always a joy to celebrate our members’ weight-loss successes and ‘crowning achievements’ at IRD,” says TOPS president Barbara Cady. “Esther Manz, TOPS’ founder and first president, felt that members who achieved their goal weight should be ‘treated like royalty.’ These winners embody the best of what TOPS is all about: healthier lifestyles, personal accomplishment, and overall wellness.”
International Royalty and Runners-up include:
• International Queen: Julie Vanden Berg; Zeeland, Mich.; 214.75 lbs. • International King: Kevin Carter; Botwood, Newfoundland; 203 lbs. • International Queen Runner-up: Karla Dombrock; Burnsville, Minn.; 176.5 lbs. • International King Runner-up: Brian Collins; Eugene, Ore.; 178 lbs.
International Division Winners are members who lost the most weight of all TOPS members in their weight division during 2011:
• Division 1, First Place, Female: Heather Gum; Readyville, Tenn.; 128.75 lbs. • Division 1, First Place, Male: Kevin Brown; Clarksburg, W. Va.; 129.75 lbs. • Division 1, Second Place, Female: Barbara Treece; Cypress, Calif.; 122.75 lbs. • Division 1, Second Place, Male: Gregory Turner; Umatilla, Fla.; 125.5 lbs. • Division 2, First Place, Male: William Hulbert; Park Falls, Wis.; 83.5 lbs. • Division 2, Second Place, Female: Theresa Dinius; Charleston, S.C.; 122 lbs. • Division 2, Second Place, Male: Danny Vondersmith; Silverdale, Wash.; 82.75 lbs. • Division 3, First Place, Female: Wendy Hassard; Kitchener, Ontario; 91 lbs. • Division 3, First Place, Male: Brian Collins, Eugene, Ore.; 62 lbs. • Division 3, Second Place, Female: Ann Myles; Kentville, Nova Scotia; 90.5 lbs. • Division 4, First Place, Female: Amy Rizzo; Moreno Valley, Calif.; 55.5 lbs. • Division 4, First Place, Male: Daniel Tippie; Colorado Springs, Colo.; 35 lbs. • Division 4, Second Place, Female: Mary Amyot; Cicero, N.Y.; 53.5 lbs. • Division 4, Second Place, Male: Jimmie Beasley; Fultondale, Ala.; 31.5 lbs. • Division 5, First Place, Female: Dolly Lane; Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland; 37.5 lbs. • Division 5, First Place, Male: Thomas Erdmann; South Haven, Mich.; 10.5 lbs. • Division 5, Second Place, Female: Cheryl Brewer; Arcola, Mo.; 34 lbs. • Division 6 (teens), First Place, Female: Kenzey Lord; Flint, Mich.; 38 lbs. • Division 6 (teens), First Place, Male: Deven Anderson; Des Moines, Iowa.; 27.5 lbs. • Division 6 (teens), Second Place, Female: Brittany Harris; Yakima, Wash.; 36.75 lbs. • Division 6 (teens), Second Place, Male: Brek Jeffrey; Parkersburg, W. Va.; 20 lbs. • Division 7, First Place, Female: Joy Mecca; Hanover Township, Pa.; 101 lbs. • Division 7, First Place, Male: LeMoine Worthington; Waterford, Wis.; 115.75 lbs. • Division 7, Second Place, Female: Ann Benson; Bellows Falls, Vt.; 86.75 lbs. • Division 7, Second Place, Male: Carlos Ramirez; Fresno, Calif.; 110.5 lbs. • Division 8 (preteens), First Place, Female: Patti Ocampo; Grand Rapids, Mich.; 27 lbs. • Division 8 (preteens), First Place, Male: Wyatt McNeese; Joyce, Wash.; 13.5 lbs. • Division 8 (preteens), Second Place, Female: Alexis Macumber; Lockwood, N.Y.; 20.5 lbs. • Division 9, First Place, Female: Susan Wiedman; Mears, Mich.; 117.5 lbs. • Division 9, First Place, Male: John Porter; Salisaw, Okla.; 129.25 lbs. • Division 9, Second Place, Male: Don Perry; West Richland, Wash.; 128.5 lbs.
State Royalty includes:
• Alabama Queen: Jo Schaffer; Cullman; 56 lbs. • Alabama King: Michael Mann; Mobile; 57 lbs. • Alaska Queen: Theresa Lusby; Kasilof; 27.5 lbs. • Arizona Queen: Cathy Langley; Wittmann; 142.75 lbs. • Arizona King: Thomas McManus; Wellton; 48.25 lbs. • Arkansas Queen: Randa Bowman; El Dorado; 70 lbs. • Arkansas King: Bruce Shaw; Van Buren; 51 lbs. • California Queen: Georgia Rice; Santa Ana; 114.25 lbs. • California King: William Harmaning; San Diego; 91 lbs. • Colorado Queen: Oda Vik; Fort Collins; 75 lbs. • Colorado King: Daniel Tippie; Colorado Springs; 34.25 lbs. • Connecticut Queen: Deborah Ferrucci; Northford; 53.5 lbs. • Connecticut King: Russell Wicks; Windham; 52 lbs. • Florida Queen: Tina Turner; Umatilla; 114.75 lbs. • Florida King: Howard Reier Sr.; Belleview; 63.75 lbs. • Georgia Queen: Lori Ray; Watkinsville; 95.5 lbs. • Georgia King: Alfred Reid; Conyers; 84.5 lbs. • Hawaii Queen: Bea Jost; Kaneohe; 12 lbs. • Idaho Queen: Elberta Davis; Pocatello; 64 lbs. • Idaho King: Ron Olson; Meridian; 174.25 lbs. • Illinois Queen: Phyllis Christian; Montgomery; 155.75 lbs. • Illinois King: Daniel Lounsbury; Algonquin; 65.25 lbs. • Indiana Queen: Vicki Ferrell; Muncie; 129 lbs. • Indiana King: Richard Esposito; South Holland, Ill.; 38.5 lbs. • Iowa Queen: Celia Llewellyn; Cedar Falls; 72.5 lbs. • Iowa King: Paul Kness; Centerville; 54.75 lbs. • Kansas Queen: Tammy Chastain; McPherson; 113.5 lbs. • Kansas King: John Hendrick Jr.; Wichita; 66.5 lbs. • Kentucky Queen: Brenda Carney; Bardstown; 65.5 lbs. • Kentucky King: Edwin Durbin; Paducah; 13 lbs. • Louisiana Queen: Danielle LaGrange; New Iberia; 132 lbs. • Maine Queen: Sonya Hart; Winthrop; 94.25 lbs. • Maine King: Wayne Hewins; Hartland; 90.75 lbs. • Maryland Queen: Billie York; Baltimore; 169 lbs. • Massachusetts Queen: Paula Ferland; Fall River; 87.5 lbs. • Massachusetts King: Gilbert MacNab; Duxbury; 22.5 lbs. • Michigan Queen: Julie Vanden Berg; Zeeland; 214.75 lbs. • Michigan King: Henry Smith; Ishpeming; 78.5 lbs. • Minnesota Queen: Karla Dombrock; Burnsville; 176.5 lbs. • Minnesota King: Shane Olson; Detroit Lakes; 104 lbs. • Mississippi Queen: Marlene Taylor; Ocean Springs; 77.25 lbs. • Mississippi King: Roland Wibbing; Carriere; 18.5 lbs. • Missouri Queen: Donna Goller; Springfield; 156.5 lbs. • Missouri King: Al Wagner; Brighton; 88 lbs. • Montana Queen: Donna Shriner; Libby; 84 lbs. • Montana King: Richard Welty; Plains; 15 lbs. • Nebraska Queen: Mildred Andersen; Omaha; 139.5 lbs. • Nevada Queen: Joanne Nunziati; Pahrump; 71 lbs. • Nevada King: Thomas Hancock; Las Vegas; 25.5 lbs. • New Hampshire Queen: Susan Achille; Peterborough; 93.5 lbs. • New Hampshire King: Wesley Hewins; Hartland, Maine; 45.75 lbs. • New Jersey Queen: Mary Walter; North Cape May; 55.25 lbs. • New Jersey King: Henry Hughes; Maple Shade; 29 lbs. • New Mexico Queen: Joanne Handzel; Las Cruces; 90.5 lbs. • New York Queen: Courtney Haubner; Rochester; 158.75 lbs. • New York King: Donald Monica; Corinth; 34.75 lbs. • North Carolina Queen: Gail James; Nebo; 122 lbs. • North Carolina King: Larry Edmonds; Archdale; 26.5 lbs. • North Dakota Queen: Maggie Hewson; Belfield; 32 lbs. • North Dakota King: Wayne Terrian; Grand Forks; 41.5 lbs. • Ohio Queen: Helen Siemon; Kenton; 112.25 lbs. • Ohio King: Andrew Mazza; Youngstown; 85 lbs. • Oklahoma Queen: Melvina Jackson; Noble; 78 lbs. • Oklahoma King: Harley Bromley; Washington; 61.75 lbs. • Oregon Queen: Susan Catron; Roseburg; 83 lbs. • Oregon King: Brian Collins; Eugene; 178 lbs. • Pennsylvania Queen: Sandra Homer; Franklin; 101 lbs. • Pennsylvania King: Larry Witmer; Mercersburg; 63.75 lbs. • Rhode Island Queen: Virginia Salois; Pawtucket; 87 lbs. • Rhode Island King: Donald Durfee; Bristol; 105 lbs. • South Carolina Queen: Roxanna Smith; Cottageville; 65.75 lbs. • South Carolina King: Gordon Smith; Cottageville; 62 lbs. • South Dakota Queen (Tie): Carol Veach; Watertown; 86 lbs. • South Dakota Queen (Tie): Brenda Ernster; Aberdeen; 86 lbs. • Tennessee Queen: Debbie Covert; Friendsville; 130.5 lbs. • Tennessee King: Ken Laswell; Spring City; 107 lbs. • Texas Queen: Jean Bryant; Pasadena; 105 lbs. • Texas King: James Embree; Longview; 78.5 lbs. • Utah Queen: Heidi Jenkins; Brigham City; 113.75 lbs. • Utah King: Roy Kendall; Orem; 26 lbs. • Vermont Queen: Cathy Peart; Lyndonville; 78.5 lbs. • Virginia Queen: Cynthia Merriman; Virginia Beach; 75.75 lbs. • Virginia King: Shawn Campbell; Lorton; 52 lbs. • Washington Queen: Gale Rayoum; Coulee Dam; 118 lbs. • Washington King: Gregg Miller; Yelm; 49.75 lbs. • West Virginia Queen: Betty Whiteman; Purgitsville; 101.5 lbs. • West Virginia King: Brek Jeffrey; Parkersburg; 97.5 lbs. • Wisconsin Queen: Mary Stoll; Milwaukee; 145 lbs. • Wisconsin King: John Wesenick; Schofield; 55 lbs. • Wyoming Queen: Carol Yates; Sheridan; 138.75 lbs.
Provincial Royalty includes:
• Alberta Queen: Florence Nyquist; Lethbridge; 89.5 lbs. • Alberta King: Richard Parry; Clairmont; 82 lbs. • British Columbia Queen: Cyndy Anderson; Salmon Arm; 152 lbs. • British Columbia King: John Mielke; Courtenay; 51 lbs. • Manitoba Queen: Jill Graham; Winnipeg; 103.25 lbs. • New Brunswick Queen: Cindy Lawson; Shannon; 114 lbs. • Newfoundland Queen: Eva Jo Slade; Mount Pearl; 79 lbs. • Newfoundland King: Kevin Carter; Botwood; 203 lbs. • Nova Scotia Queen: Dawn Gavel; Kentville; 105.75 lbs. • Nova Scotia King: Brian Reid; Kingston; 28.5 lbs. • Ontario Queen: Brenda Caines; Oshawa; 113 lbs. • Ontario King: Gerry Clements; Sarnia; 89 lbs. • Prince Edward Island Queen: Darlene MacDonald; Borden-Carleton; 66.25 lbs. • Prince Edward Island King: Elmer Ferguson; Charlottetown; 23.25 lbs. • Quebec Queen: Joyce Wilcox; Greenfield Park; 64 lbs. • Quebec King: Ronald Gandey; Dorval; 76 lbs. • Saskatchewan Queen: Melanie Collen; North Battleford; 51 lbs. • Yukon Territory Queen: Mary McBee; Whitehorse; 30 lbs.
TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is the original weight-loss support and wellness education organization. Founded more than 64 years ago, TOPS is the only nonprofit, noncommercial weight-loss organization of its kind. TOPS promotes successful weight management with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss.SM” philosophy that combines support from others at weekly chapter meetings, healthy eating, regular exercise, and wellness information. TOPS has about 170,000 members – male and female, age seven and older – in nearly 10,000 chapters throughout the United States and Canada.
Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. Membership is affordable at just $28 per year in the U.S. and $32 per year in Canada, plus nominal chapter fees. To find a local chapter, view www.tops.org or call (800) 932-8677.