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CCC celebrates completion of the third Fitness Challenge

Just over eight weeks ago, Cayuga Community College student Jay Wornick challenged the campus community to keep up with him during the third annual Fitness Challenge.

Wornick, who received national media attention for losing 200 pounds in a bet with his wife Angela, shared advice about eating and exercising during the March kickoff event to the eight-week campus-wide fitness competition.

May 23, the college community celebrated the accomplishments of Wornick (who ended up winning the overall individual category by racking up 4,852.81 points) as well as the 180 people who participated in the challenge this year.

Organized by the Cayuga Community College Wellness Committee and the Administrative Professionals Group, the Fitness Challenge brings together four-person teams in a friendly contest to see which team earns the most points by tracking steps and exercise routines.

Participants also earned extra points for eating five fruits and veggies a day, having blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, participating in a Zumba-thon, giving blood, and donating non-perishable food items, gift cards, and money to local charities.

“I know many participants use the fitness challenge as a jump start to lose those extra pounds before summer,” said co-organizer Jackie Caputa, who works as the assistant comptroller in the Business Office. “But for most people, we do it because it brings us all together to encourage each other to get healthy and stay healthy and have fun doing it.”

By the end of the competition, participants walked 67,683,725 steps, lost 265 pounds, raised more than $420 for the Make A Wish Foundation, and contributed more than 2,000 canned items, 20 hams, and $270 to Cayuga County and Oswego County food pantries.

“Our goal has always been simple – to get people moving just a little bit more than they normally would,” said co-organizer Adam Williams, who is the webmaster at the college. “It’s not about winning the overall challenge but rather to have people challenge themselves.”

The competition concluded with a Final Event Challenge involving eight teams who competed in a series of activities, including configuring eight puzzle pieces into a 2 by 2 square, relay race carrying an egg on a spoon, and an obstacle course.

The winning team was 3 Sexy Phat Cougars and a Hawk, comprised of Debbi Purcell, Stephanie Schuster, Karen Squires, and Diane Holbert, who filled in for original teammate Casey Purcell who wasn’t available to compete in the final event challenges.

Second place went to Need Help?, which consisted of Patricia Fiorillo-Bullock, Sue Wilson, Scott Shaft, and Norm Lee, who filled in for original teammate Vincent Carnicelli.

Don O’Brien, Sara Davenport, Maureen Erickson, and Debbie Barron won third place.

This year, organizers also established the Penny Austin Perseverance Award, in honor of a college employee who battled cancer and whose positive attitude inspires those who work with her.

The inaugural winner was Frank Sciortino, a second shift custodian who was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident in October 2010 and spent months in physical therapy and recovering before he was able to return to work.

Austin selected the Make A Wish Foundation to receive the funds raised in her name this year. Next year, award-winner Sciortino will select the charity of his choice to support through Fitness Challenge fund-raising activities.

Other Fitness Challenge winners included:

• Top Students: Christopher Bynoe (Auburn Campus): 3,675.72 points; Abigail Thompson (Fulton Campus): 3,394.76 points; and Nilsa Dejesus (Auburn Campus): 3,021.49 points.

• Individual Winners: Jay Wornick: Most points; Karen Squires: highest percentage of body weight lost; and Kathy Lytle: Most steps.

• Team with the Most Points: Fitter Than Your Team: Angela and Jay Wornick; and science professors Joel and Rob Humphrey.

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