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Thousands of Western New Yorkers participate in this spring's Independent Health and Buffalo Bills Health & Wellness Challenge


More than 24,000 Western New Yorkers signed up for this spring's Independent Health and Buffalo Bills Health & Wellness Challenge, making it the most successful Challenge to date. Overall, 3,400 new participants registered for the online community-wide health and wellness initiative, which ran from April 23 through June 3. 

As with past Health & Wellness Challenges, participants were once again challenged to integrate physical activity and good nutrition into their daily lives. In turn, each participant, on average, logged more than five hours of physical activity, while consuming 77 servings of fruits and vegetables and 129 glasses of water during the six-week initiative. 

The Health & Wellness Challenge was designed as a way to help motivate individuals to integrate physical activity and good nutrition into their daily lives by offering them opportunities to win prizes. The first session kicked off in October 2014 and drew 2,300 participants. Since then, seven more rounds of the six-week initiative have been held, with participation steadily increasing each round, bringing the total number of registrants for the recent spring session to 24,459.

"We're very pleased that so many Western New Yorkers have embraced the Health & Wellness Challenge and have become more engaged in living 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 accountable for your health every day. Through our partnership with the Bills, we've been able to provide our community with access to a health and wellness program that makes it easy, fun and rewarding to adopt healthy habits, be physically active and make wise nutritional choices."

"As it nears 25,000 total participants, the Health & Wellness Challenge has steadily grown in popularity over the last five years," said Erica Muhleman, Pegula Sports and Entertainment's executive vice president of business development. "Independent Health has helped increase awareness that has inspired community members to further incorporate exercise, proper nutrition and hydration into their daily lives, leading to long term benefits for all."

Cheektowaga resident selected as the Challenge's $5,000 grand prize winner

By taking the steps to lead healthier lives, all Health & Wellness Challenge competitors were eligible to win prizes by meeting daily goals and completing challenges for points. Barbara Bartlow of Cheektowaga was the lucky winner of the Challenge's $5,000 cash grand prize.

In addition to the grand prize, a weekly $500 cash prize was awarded to six participants, while 30 other participants were selected at random to receive daily prizes, such as Bills autographed memorabilia and game tickets, wireless headphones, fitness trackers and gift cards. 

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 

2) Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables 

3) Drink eight glasses of water 

Participants could also complete one "extra points" challenge each day to gain more chances to win. As an added bonus, individuals who referred their friends, family and co-workers earned 10 extra points for each person who registered. 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. 

To keep the drive toward health and wellness alive, Independent Health and the Bills are planning to have a ninth 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.