By Darla Shelden
Preceding the City Arts Center’s annual Midnight Streak 5k run, on Saturday August 11 at State Fair Park, Subway restaurant’s Jared Fogle will announce the 2012 OKC Weight Loss Challenge winners at 9:30 p.m. Over 4,000 participants have tracked their weight loss for 12 weeks. First prize will be a Nissan Versa, from Fenton Nissan.
Mason Carter Harvey, a 12-year-old boy from Guthrie, OK, participated in the 2011 Midnight Streak. He has lost 85 pounds on his own during the past year. The number became symbolic and he used it to start a campaign called Strive for 85. His success and campaign have made him a local celebrity and attracted the attention of many people including Michelle Obama and Mayor Mick Cornett.
One year ago Mason was a sixth grader and weighed 206 pounds. Tired of being picked on, he put down his xbox, started moving his body and eating a healthier diet. He began with small steps. He went to the gym, gave up junk food and stuck to his plan.
Today Mason weighs 120 pounds and has new goals such as helping his dad lose 85 pounds, inspiring 85 kids suffering from weight issues to get more active, and meeting 85 prominent people who will help him spread the word about his ultimate goal, to end childhood obesity.
“Last year’s Midnight Streak was Mason’s first running event,” said Rob Crissinger, City Arts Center Marketing and Public Relations Manager. “He did the 1-mile fun run, and this year is running the full 5-K. This time he’s bringing his whole family to run alongside him, and is recruiting ‘TeamStrivefor85’ people to run with him. He’ll be wearing bib #85 in the run.”
Mason introduced himself to Mayor Cornett and Jared Fogle at the last year’s Midnight Streak. They were both very impressed with Mason.
“Mayor Cornett’s office helped spread my story to Michelle Obama because of her “Let’s Move” campaign that she promotes about healthy and active lifestyles,” said Mason. “Her office contacted my parents and invited us to the annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn. The First Lady acknowledged my efforts and appreciates what I’m doing. It was super awesome meeting her! I spoke to her for about 10 minutes and she signed my important people book.”
The First Lady recently spoke at a conference in Pennsylvania urging community leaders to visit the new ‘Let’s Move Cities’ website at letsmove.gov. In her speech, Mrs. Obama recalled Mason’s weight loss story, his dream to help other kids who are obese and that he now wants to be a spokeskid. “That’s what he told Mayor Cornett — he wants to be a spokeskid,” said Obama.
To reach even more people, Mason is using twitter, facebook and his website at www.strivefor85.com.
“I found Mason on twitter back in March,” said Carla Lynn Carpenter, from New Hampshire. “I have been on my own weight loss/lifestyle change journey, so his story immediately inspired me. I was given the opportunity to go o the Biggest Loser finale and I shared his story with everyone, including Alison Sweeney. She loved hearing about how a young boy is doing whatever it takes to inspire others, to get up, get active and fight back against obesity through “Small Steps + Smart Choices = Big Changes”.
Jayne Benkendorf, Edmond wellness educator, met Mason during an event at the Downtown YMCA featuring Marshall Reid, co-author of Portion Size Me: A Kid-Driven Plan to a Healthy Family. She said, “Mason is a remarkable young boy. You would never know that he had a weight problem. He is very caring and has tremendous confidence.”
“So far this year I have participated in 5 5K’s and the Midnight Streak will be my 6th,” said Mason. “I have participated in various 1 mile fun runs such as the OKC Memorial Kids Run, the Lil’ Dude Dash and the Blazing Sun Run for Freedom. I’ve done a 50 story stair climb, 2 Dance/Zumba events and a 12 hour Relay for Life walk.”
Mason’s upcoming events include the Hot Mama’s 5K run, where he will be Grand Marshall for the Baby Parade and a Dirty 30 Zombie Edition 5k obstacle course. Mason is planning a Secret 85th Mission and suggests that everyone keep following his website for more details.
“A very close friend of mine, Justin Ingle, started coming to a lot of my missions and bringing his family,” said Mason. “He’s been eating more healthy foods and he has been very successful in losing 20 lbs”
Justin and his entire family will be attending the Midnight Streak with Mason this year. “To say we are proud is a huge understatement. This is a real life story of a child that is literally changing the world one person at a time,” said Mason’s father, Mike Harvey.