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"The Challenge" wraps up with more than 2,300 participants


More than 2,300 individuals can give themselves a big pat on the back for completing the inaugural "Independent Health and Buffalo Bills Health & Wellness Challenge."

During the Challenge, which ran from Monday, October 6 through Sunday, November 16, participants logged more than 7,700 hours of exercise, while consuming nearly 80,000 servings of fruits and vegetables and drinking 133,750 glasses of water.

"The Health & Wellness Challenge was designed to inspire individuals to be more accountable when it comes to their own health and well-being. It's exciting to see so many people embrace this concept and take part in the initiative," said Michael W. Cropp, M.D., president and CEO, Independent Health. "Adopting simple, healthy habits, such as walking for a few hours a week or eating five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, can go a long way in helping our community become more physically and economically fit. We must continue to challenge ourselves to get active and eat right so that each of us can achieve a healthier lifestyle."

"We're thrilled with the results of the first-ever Health & Wellness Challenge," said Russ Brandon, Bills president. "The Bills are proud to have worked with Independent Health on such a successful endeavor to motivate the Western New York community. Though only one participant wins the grand prize, each person who made healthy changes is a winner."

In addition to improving their health and well-being, all Challenge competitors were eligible to win prizes by meeting weekly goals and completing daily challenges. As a result, one very lucky Western New Yorker is now Super Bowl-bound! Susan Zydel of Hamburg was randomly selected to win the Challenge's grand prize – a pair of tickets to Super Bowl XLIX, on February 1, 2015, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., plus airfare and accommodations.

"I'm thrilled to win a trip to the Super Bowl," said Zydel. "Being healthy is its own reward, but this is a super bonus. I appreciate any incentive I can get when it comes to wellness, because doing it alone can be difficult. It was very helpful to have the Buffalo Bills and Independent Health on my side pushing me to keep it up."

Other recent weekly prize winners included Sandra Murray of Painted Post, NY and Katherine Huebert of West Seneca. Sandra won an autographed Sammy Watkins jersey and Katherine was awarded two tickets and pregame on-field passes to the Buffalo Bills vs. Green Bay Packers game on Sunday, December 14 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Based on the success of the inaugural Challenge, Independent Health and the Buffalo Bills are working on a second effort to keep the drive toward health and wellness alive during the football offseason. Details will be made public in early 2015.

How the Health & Wellness Challenge worked

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

1) Exercise three times per week for at least 30 minutes

2) Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day

3) Drink eight glasses of water each day

Participants also had the option of completing a one daily challenge for additional points to gain more chances to win. Each challenge integrated health tips to help them learn about fitness and nutrition to stay healthy even after the challenge is completed. Participants received daily emails as a reminder to log-in and learn about that day's challenge.

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