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Independent Health and Buffalo Bills Health & Wellness Challenge winner awarded VIP trip to LA


More than 13,000 Western New Yorkers stepped up this spring to take part in the Independent Health and Buffalo Bills Health & Wellness Challenge. Overall, 3,360 new participants registered for the community-wide health and wellness initiative, which ran from April 18 through May 29.

As part of the six-week Health & Wellness Challenge, participants were challenged to integrate physical activity and good nutrition into their daily lives. In turn, they responded by logging 14,560 hours of physical activity, while consuming 207,290 servings of fruits and vegetables and 345,112 glasses of water.

The Health & Wellness Challenge was created as a way to help motivate individuals to live healthier lives by offering them opportunities to win prizes. The first initiative kicked off in October 2014 and drew 2,300 participants. Since then, three more rounds of the Challenge have been held, with participation steadily increasing each round, bringing the total number of participants to 13,074.

"We're thrilled with the way the Health & Wellness Challenge has grown and inspired so many people to take the steps to lead a healthier lifestyle," said Michael W. Cropp, M.D., president and CEO, Independent Health. "When it comes to one's health and well-being, there is no offseason. It's important to be physically active and make wise nutritional choices each and every day. Through our partnership with the Bills, we've been able to provide Western New Yorkers with access to a health and wellness program that makes it easy, fun and rewarding to get healthy and stay healthy."

Prizes awarded to more than 30 participants

Besides improving their health and well-being, all Challenge competitors were eligible to win prizes by meeting daily goals and completing challenges for points. Five participants were selected at random each week to receive a prize, including autographed Bills memorabilia and gift cards for wearable activity trackers, workout apparel and sporting goods. In addition, Michele Hoff of Lake View was the lucky winner of the Challenge's grand prize – a trip to Los Angeles with the Bills on their team plane to see them play the West Coast's newest team on October 9. The V.I.P. trip includes roundtrip airfare for two, hotel accommodations and two game tickets.

"I'm so grateful to have been chosen as the grand prize winner. I'm a big Bills fan, but have never attended a road game. My husband and I can't wait to travel with the team to Los Angeles and cheer them on to a victory," said Hoff. "I joined the Health and Wellness Challenge because I wanted to find new ways to stay healthy. I really like the fact that the different challenges were simple, everyday things anyone can do. I was already walking 60 minutes each morning, so I really concentrated on finding new ways to eat right. I'm a creature of habit and like to eat the same things. Thanks to the Challenge, I found some new healthy recipes and found some different ways to prepare vegetables and fruits for my family."

To keep the drive toward health and wellness alive, Independent Health and the Bills are planning to have a fifth Health & Wellness Challenge during the upcoming football season. Until then, participants are encouraged to continue to visit for new wellness tips and message board updates that will help them stay motivated.

"The Health & Wellness Challenge continues to gain momentum throughout Western New York. On behalf of the Buffalo Bills, I congratulate the spring challenge winner, Michele Hoff, and the more than 13,000 participants in this challenge." said Bills Managing Partner and President Russ Brandon. "In partnership with Independent Health, we believe this program leaves a positive impact on Western New York by inspiring our community to adopt healthy nutrition and fitness habits."

How the Health & Wellness Challenge worked

Participants in the Health & Wellness Challenge earned points by meeting three main daily goals:

1) 20 minutes of physical activity a day

2) Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day

3) Drink eight glasses of water each day

Participants could also complete one "extra points" challenge each day to gain more chances to win. As an added bonus, participants who referred their friends, family and co-workers earned 10 extra points for each person who registered for the Challenge. Participants kept track of their progress and learned about that day's "extra points" challenge by logging-in at

The number of points earned throughout the Health & Wellness Challenge determined the number of chances participants had in the weekly and grand prize drawing. To be eligible to win a prize, participants had to be at least 18 years of age and a legal resident of New York State at the time of entry. 

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