GFA 2017 Conquering Obesity Finalists

Howard Kingsley

A native of Kalamazoo, Howard Kingsley grew up in an unhealthy environment where heart disease was the norm. His father, uncles and siblings all passed at a young age. Due to hip issues, Howard had physical limitations and relied on a cane to get around. To conquer his obesity, Howard recently finished Lakeland Health’s MyWeigh to Health challenge and lost 69 pounds. He also reduced his portions, cut out processed foods, and became an avid bicyclist. Due to his success in overcoming adversity, Howard’s peers deemed his journey as “Changing the Rules”. His key to success and perseverance is to always strive toward his personal best, with the support of his wife Cheryl and his peers at Lakeland Health. Click here for video



Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson’s job as a reporter for the Gaylord Herald Times could be demanding and stressful. As a result, he used food as a way to cope with job demands and found himself gaining weight. Then, in the spring of 2015, Mark took up running. Starting by running 100 yards without stopping, he eventually worked his way up to a 5K, and soon after, the Traverse City Bayshore Marathon in May of 2016. In total, Mark lost an impressive 120 pounds, as well as gaining confidence and inspiring others to get active and start on the path to a healthier lifestyle. He continues to inspire those he trains with, including members of the Traverse City Track Club and Team Red, White and Blue.  He plans to continue training and beat his marathon time at this year’s Bayshore Marathon, as well as completing the 2018 Marine Corp Marathon with his friend Tyler, a marine. Mark attributes his success to the support of his parents, George and Bonnie, and his brother Jimmy.  Click here for video


Andrew Brisbo

It’s hard to believe Andrew Brisbo used to weigh nearly 340 pounds. At his heaviest weight, Andrew knew it was necessary to make a drastic change to his lifestyle consisting of poor eating habits and lack of exercise. With sheer determination and dedication, Andrew was able to lose over 120 pounds with no help from fad diets or surgeries.  Andrew began his weight loss journey by running a few blocks, which grew into longer distances until ultimately he fulfilled his goal of completing a full marathon in September 2016. Andrew has encouraged his wife to join in his passion for exercise and running, and the two of them travel all over Michigan to participate in races from 5Ks to half marathons.  In addition, Andrew has encouraged his staff at the State of Michigan Licensing Department to lead a healthy lifestyle by creating a walking challenge for teams to virtually “race” to the Mackinac Bridge and back by logging their walking miles on a daily basis.  Andrew hopes that by sharing his story of overcoming obesity will motivate others to do the same – take it one step at a time to achieve great success and a healthy lifestyle.  Click here for video