My son has been in the military for about a year, and we recently found out he was vaping. Around the same time, I went to the doctor and got some news that I didn’t like. High blood pressure runs in my family, but when the doctor says yours is extremely high and you’re borderline diabetic, it’s a real eye-opener. My son and I made a deal: If I would get my blood pressure under control, he would stop vaping. 

I decided to start with one small change.

I was reading other peoples’ stories and saw that some had lost over 100 pounds by doing the Challenge. I thought, “That’s just overwhelming. I want to start with small steps.” So, I started with water. Before, I was really addicted to soft drinks. I couldn’t sit down for a meal where I wasn’t drinking six or seven glasses. So that was key to me — trying to drink water instead of soda. 

I started at 242 pounds, and I’m down to 233.

My next doctor’s appointment is in two months and I’d love to get down to 215. I’ve been walking every day, having less salt to help my blood pressure, and eating smaller portions. I’ve also been sleeping better. 

My son and I check in on each other. 

We talk just about every day. And from time to time, he asks me how I’m doing with the Challenge. Then I check on him and ask how he’s doing. We both have our days that aren’t as good as the ones before. 

It’s made me even more thankful for my family.

I have three sons and we’re a close family. We sit down to eat together four or five times a week and put our phones away so we can talk with no distractions. We’ve even had moments where my son in the army FaceTimes in and joins us. Family has always been a priority, but when you have something in the background motivating you to keep going, your thought process becomes, “This is what we’re going to do today.” 

Since starting the Challenge, we’ve saved $280. 

My wife and I have always lived paycheck-to-paycheck and been behind on bills. It’s taken me 47 years to realize I’ve had enough of living like that. We’ve started a $5 jar. When we get a $5 bill, we don’t spend it, no matter what. We place it in the jar. My middle son is graduating in December, and we’re trying to teach him to be more thoughtful about money than we’ve been, and he just started his own jar. 

The Challenge has helped me make several changes that I intend to keep.

It has pushed me to try harder to do something different. When I see the doctor again, I want her to know I made changes so she sees the difference. We’re just trying to do better all the way around: physically, financially, spiritually, in every way possible. I want to see my boys grow old and have kids, and be there to enjoy it.

— William Craig Ray, Walmart Supercenter #1268, Whiteville, N.C.; $5K Winner

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