I’m 72 years old and for a while I wasn’t feeling good. I’m a widow with four children and eight grandchildren. My middle daughter, Becky, and my son, Caleb, live with me, and I also take care of my 94-year-old mother. I didn’t have much energy for my family. I had pain in my joints and I struggled with leg cramps and restless leg syndrome. At work, if I had to get down on my knees, I had trouble getting back up, and I couldn’t climb a ladder. I couldn’t even walk without being in pain, which upset me because when I was younger, I’d walk for miles. I’d come home from work, eat supper, sit in my recliner, turn the TV on, and go to sleep. When I heard about the Thrive Challenge, I was excited to try it.

Movement Microsteps helped me incorporate exercise into my day.

I began with easy stretches and slowly built a routine which I do at the start and end of every day. I do calf stretches, a quadriceps set, and straight leg raises, and I spend a bit of time working out with resistance bands. Over the months, my joints loosened up. I started going for short walks and now I can walk around the track with Becky without being in pain. At home, I like doing Bruno Mars Walking Workouts on YouTube.

Dancing makes me feel joyful.

Now my joints aren’t aching. I really love to dance to “Happy Dance” by MercyMe. When I’m watching the video, it makes me laugh because I can’t always keep in step with them! I dance whenever a good song comes on the radio, and on walks I’ll even do a couple of dance moves too. 

For stress relief and focus, playing music is my go-to strategy.  

Since starting the Thrive Challenge, I’ve had more energy in the evenings to play my guitar, which I love doing. I used to write songs back in the 1990s, and I’ve started composing again. I’m so happy to be getting back to my passion. I’m very spiritual and I mostly write Christian songs. I have a whole songbook with 40 songs that I’m going to try and get published now that I feel more confident; the first song is called “God’s Rainbow.”  

Volunteering at church is my favorite way to give back.

I often arrive early to greet everyone as they come in, and I’ll sing my songs and get them dancing. Nothing makes me happier than making music and singing in church. That’s one way I feel connected to my community. 

At work, I have a great community and now I’m much more engaged.

I feel so happy that I can move, climb ladders, and walk around freely. I’m always smiling and asking our customers if I can help them with anything. I always encourage my co-workers and thank them for doing a good job.

Connecting with my family is another way things have changed. I have more to give now because I’m not tired all the time. I’ll have good conversations with my mom and my daughter. We’ll do crafts together and play Go Fish and Somerset-opoly (a game based on Monopoly with streets and landmarks in our hometown). And my mom loves for me to sing to her. I play with my 10-year-old grandson Jacob — we practice together kicking a soccer ball in the backyard, and sometimes we play badminton. I watch my 1-year-old granddaughter, who’s walking now, and we play with her toys. I’m so grateful that at this time in my life I feel healthy, and I’m finding time for the people and the things I love.

— Deb Knopsnider, Walmart Supercenter #1765, Somerset, PA; $5K Winner