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Who will be the biggest winner?

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By Bryan Marshall

Dee Perry had described herself as a couch potato who did not exercise.

That was before she registered last year for Grant County’s Biggest Winner Challenge and took home the overall prize.

“It shocked me,” the 59-year-old Williamstown resident said. “I had been pretty sick and hadn’t moved that much. It gave me a chance to get out and do a few things and meet a lot of people. I had a lot of fun doing it. It gave me more strength. When you sit around, you really get in bad shape.”

Perry has a chance to repeat this year as winner of the four-week competition, which started March 30 and ends April 25.

Perry, who has diabetes, lost about five pounds last year and gained strength in her arms and legs.

She said the people who run the challenge, which is sponsored by Fitness For Life Around Grant County (FFLAG), Northern Kentucky Health Department, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and Grant County Parks and Recreation, are “super sweet” and allow you to go at your own pace.

“I didn’t think I could walk three miles and I did,” Perry said. “I was slower than everybody else, but I go it done.”

“I’m more active now,” she said. “I kept the weight off and lost a few more pounds. I’m like 11 pounds lighter than I was last year. So, if I can do it again and lose another 11 pounds that would be pretty good for me.”

In its third year, the Biggest Winner Challenge began in March 2007 and costs $10 for the entire month for every activity and memberships to Body Works Gym and Curves.

The program was recognized in November 2008 by the Kentucky Recreation and Park Society as the Outstanding Program of the Year.

Financial incentives also are offered with $100 going to the participants who have the most weight lost, most body fat percentage lost and most classes attended.

The overall Biggest Winner, who is determined by a combination of all three categories, receives $250.

This year’s competition has 245 participants, down from 388 last year.

“The first year we only expected maybe 100 and we had over 300,” said Patty Poor, co-chair of the Biggest Winner Challenge. “It was overwhelming.”

In order to lose weight, classes are offered in walk/run groups, nutrition support, belly dancing, yoga, martial arts, clogging, line dancing, Zumba, aerobics, double dutch jump roping, jazzercise, jazz dance, swing and salsa dance, cardio kickboxing and strength training.

Participants have to be at least 10 years old, but this year a new class, Jump Into Fitness, is designed for school age children.

The winners will be announced Saturday, May 2 during the fifth annual Derby Dash in Williamstown.

“I think economically it’s a good chance to try out some things,” Poor said. “And, people like to do things together. Sometimes, families or church groups get together. For many people, I think it is very motivating.”