The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

December 30, 2012

Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Words of encouragement just in time for new year

By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
Globe Staff Writer

PITTSBURG, Kan. — I’ve received several notes and calls about folks who are either making a fitness program happen for themselves or are recognizing the efforts of others.

Here is a sampling:

Healthy strides

Joanna Rhodes contacted me last week to announce that the Health & Wellness Committee of Crawford County chose the year’s final recipients of the Live Well Apple Award. This quarter’s award goes to a group of women, a few of whom I wrote about last month, who recently completed a three-day, 60-mile walk in support of the Susan G. Komen foundation for breast cancer research.

Lisa Center, Nancy Miller, Susie Lundy and Kathy Stuckey completed the walks in Tampa, Fla., and Dallas, Texas. All of them have a personal connection to the disease.

Rhodes said the Apple Awards were created to recognize individuals and businesses that have positively affected the health and wellness of Crawford County. Anyone may submit a nomination for the first quarter of 2013 by contacting Rhodes at 620-232-1930 or

Small town, big cheer

Quentin Holmes called to tell me a second reason Pittsburg can be proud: At a recent competition in Kansas City against gyms from across the nation, The Cheer Pitt won everything.

Notably, The Cheer Pitt was the smallest gym from the smallest town in the competition. But its teams, composed of 56 gymnasts ages 5 to 18, all got first place — a clean sweep. One team claimed grand champion honors for its level. The Cheer Pitt also had a clean sweep at a competition a month ago in Branson, Mo.

“That’s not normal,” Holmes said. “We just have a little place in Pittsburg that produces some stellar athletes.”

He credits his wife Monica’s choreography and the atmosphere in their gym as key to The Cheer Pitt’s success.

Weight challenge

Laura Samford, who used to own a scrapbooking store downtown on Broadway, has opened up Girlfriends Gym & A Touch of Napa Massage & Wellness Clinic at 2401 N. Broadway, and is kicking off the “Get Fit Pitt Weight Loss Challenge.”

She’s seeking a way to combat the poor health factors that exist in this part of the state, and she sees this challenge as one small step. Samford also is looking for businesses to team up with her. Participants are awarded prizes based on the percent of body weight lost. Men and women may join. The campaign kicks off Jan. 15 and costs $25.

It will last 10 weeks, but Samford’s hope is that the effects will be lifelong. She can be reached at 620-231-0557 or 620-687-5088.

FOLLOW ANDRA STEFANONI on Facebook at and on Twitter @AndraStefanoni.