The final four Fitness Ambassadors serve as statewide role models for developing healthy lifestyles through their shared passion for physical activity and motivation to inspire others to take control of their health.
Audrey Britt, Orion Township, Oakland County
Audrey Britt never considered herself to be an athlete but believes that running has changed her life for the better. In the fall of 2011, unhappy and out of shape, Britt decided to give running a try after having a dream in which she had been running and loving it. Within three months she was running three miles and ran her first 5K this past spring.
Britt is down 20 pounds and continues to run three to four times a week and incorporates one day of Zumba to keep her fitness routine interesting. She embraces her new found energy, confidence and appearance and enjoys running outside. Britt has even inspired her husband to start running with her. Along with their two boys, the family sets a perfect example of how fitness can be fun for the whole family.
“If someone would have told me a year ago that I would be running a 5K race I would have laughed!” said Britt. Now she enjoys the laughter and sound of her 4 and 2 year old boys cheering her on from their running stroller as her family races down the trails of their local park.
Bill Johnson, Grand Rapids, Kent County
Bill Johnson spent most of his childhood and young adult life overweight, until he was told by his doctor that he was in danger of becoming diabetic. Johnson lost his brother to complications related to diabetes and he knew he needed to make a change. He embarked on a journey to live a healthier lifestyle and at age 53, he has lost more than 70 pounds and completed eight 5Ks, a 10K and three half marathons.
“Running represents life to me and I share my story with anyone who will listen to my message. If I can do it, other can also take control of their health destiny. It all begins with one step and then another, with walking which turns into running,” said Johnson. “With running I know that I am doing what I can to be able to dance at my granddaughter’s weddings.”
Johnson served as a pace leader/mentor for a training group who ran the Grand Rapids Fifth Third Riverbank 25K Run this past May. His current routine includes running 3-4 times per week with additional cross training and is training. He is training for another half marathon in the fall and a full marathon in 2013. He shares his passion for running by helping his co-workers, friends, siblings, children and their families make lifestyles changes.
Heather Witt, Midland, Midland County
Witt’s love for running started about 13 years ago with the initial goal of running as a way to lose weight and get in shape. Her first-hand experience of the mental and physical benefits of running motivates her to help others pursue regular exercise. She also enjoys the camaraderie of running in good company and has formed a Women’s/Mom’s running group in her community.
Now a running enthusiast, she runs four days a week in addition to swimming and cycling one to two times a week. A highlight of her running achievements includes serving as a guide for a blind female triathlete at the 2010 International Triathlon Union World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Witt is unable to imagine her life without running and leaves us with these words of advice: “Small, do-able changes make it easier to succeed, I think people need to know that you have to take it one step at a time.”
Stacie Nardi, Negaunee, Marquette County
Stacie Nardi started running 16 years ago to control her weight. She has since lost and kept off 30 pounds. Nardi learned to cope with her divorce and life’s stresses as a working, single mother through running. Her current running routine consists of running several miles, four to five times per week.
Running for health has helped her find balance emotionally, mentally and physically and she encourages those around her to make small changes to their lifestyles as well. Her desire to motivate others to become physically active persuaded a friend to start walking during a hard time in her own life. Now, the friend is running and shares Nardi’s love of fitness. Even with a busy schedule of a full-time job and after school activities, she sets a great example for her daughters and those in her community by maintaining a consistent running routine and active lifestyle.
On Monday, September 3 our Fitness Ambassadors will kick off the ninth annual Mackinac Bridge Labor Day Run. While their inspiring stories may be diverse, they all share a passion and commitment for healthy living. We hope that you have enjoyed getting to know our 2012 Fitness Ambassadors.