McDavid gives Fitness Awards to 16 Boone County residents

A special council picked the nominees.
Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid shakes hands with former mayor Darwin Hindman, who received the Mentor Award during the Mayor's Council on Physical Fitness and Health Awards Ceremony on Tuesday at Columbia City Hall. Hindman was given the award due to his passion for fitness and was one of five citizens who received the Fitness Award in the Mentor category.

The Mayor's Council on Physical Fitness and Health presented the annual Mayor’s Fitness Award at a ceremony Tuesday. This year’s awards were given to 16 people and two groups who were recognized for five different categories, which included fitness, mentoring, smoking cessation, weight loss and youth encouragement.

This year's individual recipients are former mayor Darwin Hindman, State Sen. Kurt Schaefer, Boone County residents Mark Brown, Billie Coachman, Mindaloo Paxman, Branca Prentiss, Erika Rice, Linda LaFontaine, Simon Rose, Evelina Slatinska, Ian Thomas, Annie Dohack, Toby Cunningham, Nicole Deters and Shelly Devore. Group recipients were Big Brothers Big Sisters and Stephens College.

“When we exercise and practice good health habits individually, we tend to do it correctively, too,” McDavid said. “Each of us influences our peers, our friends, our relatives and our colleagues. So, what we do influences them and helps their lives. It is a collective type of positive peer pressure that makes the community help you.”

Award subcommittee chairwoman Shery Bradford said one of the duties of the council is to recognize outstanding developments, contributions and achievements in physical fitness.

“What we decided to do is to give awards to those who have done the outstanding things in those areas,” she said.

Fitness subcommittee chairwoman Summer Allen said staying healthy is important, and the award winners counter national trends toward obesity.

“I just think people need some encouragement to just get out there and do something good for themselves,” she said. “I am so impressed with this year’s winners. I think it’s our best group yet. I am very excited.”

The ceremony was planned to be held in the city hall’s conference room but was moved to the council chambers because of an unprecedented audience size.

“I practiced as an OB-GYN for 20 years, and it was very clear to me that there were two factors correlated to health,” McDavid said. “The most positive correlation with health was physical fitness, physical activities. Thirty minutes a day, the correlation to longevity is absolutely stunning.”

Columbia resident and weight-losss award recipient Toby Cunningham, who lost more than 130 pounds, said he was proud of winning the award.

“I weighed 534 pounds,” he said. “I needed to do this or die.”

He said he still has a long way to go to reach his fitness goals but said he likes the changes his fitness regimen brought.

“I could barely walk through my office without being winded before,” he said. “But now I can walk over a mile for an hour one time, and I can ride a bike at the gym for over three miles in fifteen minutes. I love working out now.”

Allen said because of the excitement, the council is already planning its third-annual event for Jan. 1.

“The next one is going to be Happy New U event," she said. "We are going to encourage people to make healthy New Year’s resolutions and to come out and do all kinds of fun healthy activities at the Arc.”

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