Some local K-9 unit police officers and and a sheriff's deputy teamed up for a big weight loss challenge. Thursday, they found out their hard work has earned them a $10,000 prize in the Body for Life fitness challenge.
The metro area K-9 handlers thought they were meeting up at the La Vista Police Department for a conference call. Instead, representatives from the fitness program they’ve been following surprised them with the check.
“Congratulations,” one representative announced, “You are the large group 2009 Grandmaster Body for Life champions.”
“It’s awesome. It’s awesome,” said Bellevue police officer Chad Heller.
The big money is a reward for losing big weight. Combined, the eight participants lost nearly 230 pounds and nearly 49 percent body fat.
"We like to think that equates to getting one bad guy off the streets," joked LaVista police officer John York, who spearheaded the effort last January. Officers had various reasons for signing on.
"K-9 training and the handling of the dogs can be a vigorous job, so we wanted to improve ourselves in that regard," said York.
Fellow La Vista police officer John Danderand said, "I was tired of trying to compete with the young guys and running behind them all the time."
Bellevue police officer Dustin Franks said his motivation came from one moment on the job. "For the first time ever, I was outrun by a suspect and I think that's when, you know, I had to draw the line."
For Bellevue police officer Chad Heller, it was something his then pregnant wife said to him. "She said that she hoped her stomach didn't get as big as mine. So that was a little bit of motivation."
The baby, Ella, is now 7 months old. Heller says he’s more capable of keeping up with her after losing 32 pounds in the challenge. He’s kept most of it off.
Heller’s wife, Sue, said the transformation has been huge. “He looks awesome, he looks awesome.”
"It was good to see him conscious of what he was eating. He gave up pop, that was a big deal, and, to have him working out, it’s great."
The officers worked out at least five days a week during the challenge. While some admit they’ve slowed down, they’ve all remained fit.
"I'm not tired all the time,” Heller said. “I don't feel like just lying around on my days off."
More productive off the job and better at their jobs, the men say their benefits go well beyond a cash reward.
The K-9 handlers had some good local role models, prodding them along in their success. Members of the Papillion Police Department won the same Body for Life group challenge in 2006.
For more information on the Body for Life program including recipes used by the K-9 team, Click here