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May 06, 2019

DES MOINES, IA – The Healthiest State Initiative (HSI) and officials from Grand Blue Mile announced their 2019 Set the Pace challenge $10,000 award winner: Odebolt, Iowa. The annual challenge encourages Iowans to develop sustainable, healthy habits, highlighted by participation in the Grand Blue Mile.

The $10,000 award will be used on a project that promotes safe and accessible places in which to be active, such as a park, playground, or trail. Odebolt had the highest percentage of its residents participating in Grand Blue Mile — measured by the number of registrants for a given ZIP code against the community’s total population.

"The City of Odebolt is very appreciative to our local physical education teacher Charlie Hugo for his efforts in having the children in our local elementary school set goals and prepare along with the community to participate in this event," said Christy Hoefling City of Odebolt, clerk. "The city is thankful that we have him as a part of our community and to know that his efforts will help impact not only the students but the community as a whole. It is very exciting to receive this award!"

In all, more than 40 communities — a 24 percent increase from 2018 — and thousands of individual participants accepted this year’s challenge. Event sponsor Wellmark® Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® finds that statistic especially heartening.

"It’s remarkable to witness record engagement for the Set the Pace Challenge as part of Grand Blue Mile’s 10th anniversary," said Chris Verlengia, Wellmark’s senior brand marketing manager and Grand Blue Mile official. "For the second consecutive year, a rural town rallied together and traveled two hours to the starting line, demonstrating their collective commitment to the health and vitality of their community."

"We’re excited to work with Odebolt as they identify a project to support physical activity in their community," said Jami Haberl, HSI executive director. "We encourage all Iowans to follow Odebolt’s path to invest in the health of their community. That includes doing their part to make "5-2-1-0" healthy choices: 5 of more fruits and vegetables a day, 2 hours or less screen time, 1 hour or more of physical activity and 0 sugary drinks and drink more water."