Governors Fitness Awards – Celebrating Successes in Our Great State

A Michigan woman shedding literally half her body weight, losing 140 pounds through walking and biking.

A young Michigan man born with one club hand becoming a college baseball pitcher.

A 102-year-old Michigan man competing — and medaling — in the Senior Olympics.

These are just a few of the true stories celebrated by the Governor’s Fitness Awards, an annual event held by the Michigan Fitness Foundation (MFF) and the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports.

For 24 years, the Governor’s Fitness Awards (GFAs) have celebrated individuals and organizations who show commitment to healthy lifestyles through eating better and moving more.

As a society, we need to improve our health more than ever. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other issues related to unhealthy lifestyles have become an epidemic across the country, including here in Michigan.

Lifespans are shorter. Productivity suffers. Health care costs go up. Quality of life diminishes. And the real tragedy is that so many of these health issues are preventable.

But normal, everyday Michiganders are turning that tide. Past nominees for our Accepting the Challenge award, for example, have demonstrated relentless determination to overcome fearsome obstacles on their path toward better health.

Past nominees for our Champion for Health award have worked to make their schools or communities healthier places to live, organizing walking groups, bicycling clubs, or better access to healthy foods. Their goal? The mantra of one recent winner sums it up — strong bodies, strong minds, strong character.

Nominees for our Conquering Obesity award have decided that enough was enough and changed their lifestyles . . . and thus their lives. By eating a healthier diet and embracing physical activity, they have shed excess weight and now enjoy the health benefits, not to mention greater happiness.

Over the past 10 years, GFAs have also been awarded to veterans, public officials, and other select individuals who inspire, show leadership, and transform not only themselves but also others for good.

Notable past recipients include Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Representative John Dingell, and Detroit Tigers star and longtime commentator Al Kaline.

The GFAs are not just for celebrating individuals, however. Employers across Michigan, for example, have embraced real change to help their employees become — and stay — healthier. We recognize these organizations with our Healthy Workplace award. Some of their innovative ideas include healthy cafeterias, salad clubs, walking and biking groups, walking paths and greenspaces, and other infrastructure and business process initiatives to promote healthier lifestyles.

Entire communities are also rallying around the cry of “eat better, sit less, move more.” The Active Community award recognizes communities that set high priority on making their towns friendlier to walking, biking, or other physical activity opportunities. Other past nominees have prioritized healthy eating, promoting farmers markets, community gardens, and other initiatives to make healthy foods affordable and easier to get.

Michigan has so much to offer to anyone who wants to be physically active. There are hundreds of runs and walks, of course, but also triathlons, snow shoe events, Olympics-style games, and many other events that showcase Michigan’s magnificent beauty.

Our Extraordinary Event award pays tribute to events such as these that provide varied and inclusive physical activity for Michiganders of all ages and abilities.

All Michiganders can draw both ideas and inspiration from our GFA nominees and winners. Better yet, you can get involved!

Each year, we ask the public for nominations. Do you know an individual, event, community, or organization that’s fighting unhealthy lifestyles to make Michigan a happier, healthier, more vibrant place? We want to know.

To learn more, to nominate an individual or organization, or to vote in the People’s Choice awards, please visit our Governor’s Fitness Awards page.