Patti Steele won this year's Petersburg Parks and Recreation's Losing BIG Petersburg competition by a public majority vote.
Steele was one of ten contestants, split into two teams, led and encouraged by team captains Christin Fankhauser and Shelly Pope.
Each contestant entered the competition with a set of goals to meet and guidelines to follow each week related to exercise, diet and stress relieving activities. Each week, Petersburg residents tracked how contestants performed through Facebook and KFSK and voted for their favorite contestant. Only the top contestants each week remained in the running for the grand prize bundle which included an iPad and a year-long membership to the gym among other prizes.
"I didn't know what to expect," Steele said. "I had a goal. I wanted to get started losing weight and I thought this would help hold me accountable to stay on track."
Steele said the community interest helped keep her accountable. Her friends and co-workers also played a role encouraging her and helping lure her away from unhealthy habits, she added.
Steele began keeping a food journal which helped her identify many of those unhealthy habits.
"So you're way more conscious of what you put in your mouth," Steele said. "The first thing I noticed was my caramel macchiato that I used to get every morning. I looked it up in a calorie counter. It's 800 calories for one cup of coffee. That was eye opening. There's 800 calories a day that I can ditch."
The scores of the final five contestants who were still in the running for the grand prize were tied at the end and Steele came out ahead with a majority of 253 votes from the public.
Caleb Fankhauser was one of the final five. Like Steele, he said he needed to establish regular exercise habits and healthy living.
"I had set for myself a goal to lose 30 pounds within three months," Fankhauser said. "Within six weeks I lost 20 pounds."
Caleb Fankhauser also said support from the community assisted him in meeting his goals.
"The community really came out in support of everybody," Fankhauser said. "Without the community around us we probably wouldn't have been as successful."
Parks and Recreation Director Donnie Hayes said, according to the number of votes cast, community participation was about double this year compared to last year.