‘Challenge’ comes to a close

Nearly one year ago, the mayors of Camas and Washougal, along with nearly 500 residents of the local communities, embarked on a weight loss challenge and friendly competition between the two cities.

“Camas and Washougal on a Diet” began with an event at Capt. William Clark Park. Mayors Scott Higgins and Sean Guard stepped up to do what most of us wouldn’t dream of — get weighed in public, and then have those numbers announced over a loud speaker for all to hear. For that alone, these two people deserve a round of applause.

This concept of putting a “city” on a diet was modeled after a similar effort in Oklahoma City — one of the top 10 most obese cities in the U.S. In Washington, struggles with weight and overall health are ideas that many of us can also relate to. According to a report, 26 percent of the state’s residents are considered obese.

As part of the local program, during the past year there have been seminars about living healthy, exercise classes, running and walking events, and screenings of the documentary “Weight of the Nation.” Members of the community who chose to participate in the challenge have created profiles and entered information about activities and food intake at www.camasandwashougalonadiet.com. So far, 1,031 pounds have been lost and 4,596 miles of exercise have been logged.

Through it all, Higgins and Guard and other participants talked publicly about their weight loss successes and failures, and many of us could empathize with both.

On Saturday at 11:30 a.m., at the Pendleton Woolen Mills parking lot, all of their work will culminate much like it began — with a weigh-in that this time will determine the winner of the challenge.

No matter what that scale says, Guard, Higgins and other participants have already met at least one very important goal: to raise awareness of the issue of the growing rate of obesity in America and in our own communities.