BY MELISSA ROLLINS (Morning News)
Drum roll, please…the winners of the 2015 Florence’s Biggest Loser competition are Tony Sitton for most pounds and Carroll Bazen for most inches lost.
The winners were announced Thursday night during the 2015 Biggest Loser finale event, held at the Carolinian, an independent and assisted-living community in Florence.
More than 100 people, including competitors, friends, trainers and family, packed the outdoor courtyard Thursday to reflect on the 10-week journey coming to an end.
Stephanie Navarro, community resource manager for United Way of Florence County, announced that the competitors had lost around 1,500 pounds altogether. Between entry fees and money spent on purchasing brownie points for individuals in the competition, the United Way fundraiser raised nearly $18,000.
“This night is about you all,” Navarro said. “You guys and your journey is one part of the Burn and Learn Initiative. The other portion is about pushing your journey out into the community and hopefully inspiring others. Even if you can’t see the people you are affecting, the fact that you are willing to do this publicly and share with others helps tremendously.”
Tony Sitton, who lost 71 pounds, said both he and his wife got a lot out of the competition.
“My first thanks is to my wife, Windy,” Sitton said. “She was in this competition last year and I cheered her on while I ate Cheetos and Snickers. She asked if I would do it with her this year and I said yes; it has definitely been a life change for both of us. This has been a wonderful program; the more people take part in it, the more they will get out of life. Everyone here tonight has won something. … I love my wife and I love my life.”
Carroll Bazen said that because of his experience with Biggest Loser, he is already telling people he knows to sign up for next year’s competition.
“I just wanted to say that I appreciate this program,” Bazen said. “I appreciate the support; it truly is life-changing. I had gotten to a place in my life at 36 years old that I didn’t think I’d be able to go back into doing things. I had gained so much weight that I felt hopeless. Through this program and through Mr. Jimmy Ard, I’ve just had a great support team and that has meant a lot to me. I am pro-Biggest Loser because I just think it works.”
Monk Jordan came in second place for both pounds and inches lost. He was given a special prize for his hard work. Throughout the competition, Jordan was consistently at the top of the pack.
Marcie Lloyd received the True Grits Award, having been nominated and voted for by peers and coaches for serving as an inspiration to others during the 10-week journey. Unbeknownst to many, Lloyd’s car had broken down and she walked 10 miles to get to a weigh-in.