At Thrive, we believe one of the most important ways to fight burnout is to find purpose and meaning in the work you do every day. For me, that’s not hard, because our partnership with Walmart enables me to see the power of Thrive’s behavior change platform in action every day. Through small better choices that build momentum over time, Walmart associates (and their friends and family) are able to make changes that drastically improve their lives and the lives of those around them.

Each month, we award 15 winners with a cash prize for their accomplishments in the Thrive Challenge, and it’s the best part of my job. Reading through their stories and learning how each of them overcame everyday struggles gives me so much inspiration and passion for the work that we do. 

Below, read the stories of our 15 winners for the month of October. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

  1. Sherry Gomez, Walmart Supercenter #3224; Garland, TX; $5K Winner

“I wasn’t feeling good about myself during COVID. I’m a pharmacy technician and it was a very stressful time for us. I was eating a lot of fast food and my cholesterol was too high. So I downloaded the Thrive app and decided to get healthy. After work, I exercise for 30 minutes 

listening to upbeat music like Lady Gaga. I found right away that moving and stretching gets rid of my stress. I cut out sugary drinks and I’m making stir fries for dinner. I’ve lowered my cholesterol without taking drugs and I’ve lost 20 pounds. My mood is better at work; I have a lot more compassion and patience. I’m more adventurous, I went to the state fair in Dallas on my own and had an amazing time. I’m also getting creative, doing coloring and writing stories. Before people were getting the ‘stressed out’ me, but now they’re getting the best me, someone who’s a lot happier.”

  1. Sam Kibisu, Sam’s Club #6342, Tulsa, OK; $5K Winner

“In 2013, my wife left me and I was devastated. Since then, I’ve had a lot of stress. I live on my own and I was lonely. I was eating junk food, I weighed 250 pounds, and I had high cholesterol. In January I was diagnosed with lung cancer. My father died when I was 18 and I want to be there for my two sons. My doctor said I needed to exercise and lose weight, and I got started on the Thrive Challenge. I bought a treadmill and I also started walking on the trail near my house. I’m cooking for myself — I like to make chicken stew and rice with a vegetable medley. I started going to church and getting involved in the community. I joined a Bible study group and I play drums for a gospel group at church. My relationship with my sons has improved tremendously, and we love each other’s company. I know I will be there when my sons get married and hopefully I’ll be a grandfather someday.”

  1. Bill Linsner, Walmart Store #2326, Hornell, NY; $5K Winner

“During COVID, I was having a rough time at work and felt like I couldn’t get enough done. I was eating fast food, and I was too tired and sluggish to play with my kids. I used to run every day, but I’d stopped exercising. I downloaded the Thrive app, cut out sodas, and started drinking water instead. When I’m home, I do most of the cooking. I make great chicken tacos in the crock pot, and we’re cooking lots of plant-based meals. We had a family vacation this summer and we had a blast. I began running on my treadmill to get my endurance back up and in September, I ran a 5K which felt like a big accomplishment. I’m a third generation volunteer fire-fighter. One of the most rewarding things for me is knowing I’m able to make a difference and save lives. I know I’m on the right track. I have a go-get-em attitude, I can keep up with the kids, and I just feel better.”

  1. Maria Richardson, Walmart Supercenter #831, Albuquerque, NM; $5K Winner

“I was born and raised in Nicaragua and moved to America in 2005. When I arrived here, I was taken to a party and I asked for a soda, but I was drugged and kidnapped. I was the victim of human trafficking. Someone helped me escape, but it took me years to trust people. I met my husband, Rick, and we have a 10-year-old son, Joshua. I was doing okay, but last year my mother passed away and I felt depressed again. I was eating junk food and crying every day. I started the Thrive Challenge and stopped drinking soda. We’re eating great food like chicken with salsa and potatoes, and rice and beans. I’ve lost 32 pounds and have more energy. I’m enjoying being with my family. We take Joshua to the game on Saturday and we all go for walks. I miss my mom but I think about all the happy times. I’m healing from the past. I know I did nothing wrong, I’m peaceful, and I feel part of the family again.”

  1. Karen Crawford, Walmart Supercenter #2663; Ebensburg, PA; $5K Winner

“There’s been a lot of loss in my life. I went through a difficult divorce, I lost my mom to brain cancer, my dad died, and my dog died. I’d get off work and sit on the couch, crying and eating unhealthy food. I downloaded the Thrive app and started cooking great recipes, like pizza with low carb flatbread, and I’ve lost 16 pounds. I go for walks with my new dog, Lucy, who’s helping me heal. My son, Matthew, and I are very close and spend a lot of time together. Baking is my passion and connects me with my mom, who taught me to bake. I just won second place in a chocolate cake contest! My relationship with my fiance, Jim, is much better because I’m more positive, and we’re appreciating each other. I won the ‘Happy To Help’ award at work and I feel great. My mom would want me to be happy and go on with life, so that’s what I’m doing.”

  1. Treazure Davis, Walmart Supercenter #113, Chickasha, OK; $5K Winner

“Addiction runs on both sides of my family, along with diabetes and high blood pressure. I always ate a lot of processed food and in college I started drinking vodka. Drinking impacted my relationships — when I was drunk, I’d be a different person. I’d constantly say: ‘I’m going to stop,’ but it’s easier said than done. I decided to download the Thrive app and my first step was to remove all the alcohol from my house. I started drinking cranberry juice when I felt like a drink, and after a few weeks I stopped craving alcohol. After work I go to the YMCA to exercise instead of going home, watching T.V., and drinking. I don’t have brain fog, my head feels clear, and I feel good. I’m enjoying cooking fish and vegetables in the airfryer. I’ve lost 20 pounds and I feel lighter in every way. I’m also showing up better at work and I got a promotion. I’m staying sober and staying strong. I’d like to start dating soon — definitely with someone who is sober.”

  1. Ashley Wells, Walmart Supercenter #4187, Florence, AL; $5K Winner

“My biggest struggle has been making enough time for my family. I put everything into work and I wasn’t connecting with my husband and our kids. After work, I’d be on the phone all night. I was having dark thoughts — it was scary. I downloaded the Thrive Challenge and my first step was switching out energy drinks for water. My daughters and I are cooking together — we’ll throw together a casserole or spaghetti, and we all love a good pot of chili. We’re sitting down to dinner without our phones. Bonding with my family makes me happy — we’re having conversations. We’re taking our three dogs for walks on the nature trails. I love taking pictures of the trees and water. I’ve stopped scrolling on my phone at night and I feel much better in the morning. I’m thankful for everything in my life. Simply put: I am a better version of myself.”

  1. Stephen Brewer, Walmart Supercenter #4244, Park Rapids, MN; $5K Winner

“I used to be a workaholic. I was smoking a pack and a half of cigarettes a day, and at home I  was physically and emotionally shut down. I’m 44 and my wife, Mary, and I have four kids but I wasn’t spending time with them. A year ago, I had a heart attack. That was the moment I decided to download the Thrive app. I gave up smoking, and to start with, it was challenging. But it got easier and now I feel great. I have much more energy. I stopped eating fast food and I have a new passion for cooking. My mom’s family is from Mexico and I make great turkey tamales with veggies. I lift weights and I’ve taken up cycling. After work, I’m enjoying family time. We bought a pickleball net for the driveway and we all get out and play together. It’s going to sound odd but having a heart attack so young turned out to be a good thing. It led me to cherish my life.”

  1. Ashley Bussard, Walmart Supercenter #2859, Rochester, NY; $5K Winner

“I have two sons: Gavin, who is seven; and 11-year-old Michael, who has Down syndrome. My kids are the best things that ever happened to me! But I’ve had a lot of stress recently. I was promoted to market manager. I love my job, but I was making poor choices around food — grab and go! I felt sluggish and I wasn’t present at home with my family. My blood pressure was a little high. I decided to make some lifestyle changes and I downloaded the Thrive app. Mike and I began meal-prepping. For work, I make ‘travel meals’ like chicken and raw veggies — anything that’s easy to put in a container. I relax by doing breathing exercises and resets on the Thrive app. I’m working out and playing basketball with the boys. I’m more present with the family. Mike, and I went on our first vacation in five years to the Grand Canyon. It was amazing. I’ve lost 30 pounds, I’m sleeping better, I’m happier, and my kids are happy.”

  1. David Aid, Walmart Supercenter #280, Rockdale, TX; $5K Winner

“I’ve always been overweight. I had a sleep study done and they diagnosed acute sleep apnea so I had to use a CPAP machine. And my back was bothering me. I stepped on the scale and weighed 314 pounds and thought, ‘geez!’ So I downloaded the Thrive app. At meal times, I eat smaller portions and I don’t go back for seconds. We’re eating stir fries with chicken or shrimp and we’re using ‘zoodles’ made of zucchini instead of pasta. My wife and I go for relaxing walks around the neighborhood, we both work at Walmart and we’re doing the Thrive Challenge together. I love my job and I’m not drained anymore. I get to bed by 10 p.m. and I’m sleeping better. My back doesn’t bother me because I’m not carrying all that weight anymore. I’ve lost 55 pounds and I feel great. The Thrive Challenge has helped me take back my life and probably, in all honesty, has extended my life.” 

  1. Jackie Hammond, Walmart Store #2326, Hornell, NY; $5K Winner

“I’ve had to work on my trust in men for my whole life. I was in a marriage that was very abusive. I finally left and raised our three daughters on my own. I’d eat for comfort. If I saw a donut that looked good, I’d think, ‘I’m gonna eat that!’ I didn’t have the energy to play with my grandchildren. I was inspired to take the Thrive Challenge by Kirsten Ohara. At work, we encourage each other. Now, if I see a donut, I’ll just have a drink of water! I’m having adventures. I went with my friend, Becky Jo, to Niagara Falls on a beautiful fall day. It was like a mini-vacation. All my stress went away down into the water. I’ve lost 33 pounds and I have the energy to play with my grandkids. I can actually say I love myself, and I hope and pray I meet my soulmate when I’m ready to share my life with someone.”

  1. Wanda Otero, Walmart Supercenter #2346, Toa Baja, PR; $5K Winner

“I used to live a really sedentary life. I would just go from home to work, and I had no set goals. I felt sad and I was always tired. I started feeling like I just didn’t want to do much at all. I knew I needed a change to get out of that rut. My first step was preparing food at home to take to work with me. This helped me think more about what I was eating and it also helped me save money. I started eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking more water. Soon I found that I was feeling better and even sleeping better. I started exercising, and we even started exercising together as a family. My son is joining me and he has lost around 20 pounds. We make meals together, and I’ve learned to eat certain vegetables I never used to eat, like carrots, green beans, and tomatoes. The Thrive Challenge has taught me to set goals and work to achieve them, and I’m so grateful.”

  1. Ron Cline, Neighborhood Market #2685, Bentonville, AR; $5K Winner

“In 2020, I went through a tough divorce. Then a few months ago, I woke up feeling dizzy. I went to the hospital and found out I’d had a series of strokes. They said it was a miracle that I was alive. I want to be around for my grandkids and I really wanted to get back in shape, so I downloaded the Thrive app. I’ve cut out all processed food — a typical dinner will be chicken with mashed potatoes and green beans. I love cycling and I ride my bike to work — I ride 30 to 40 miles a week. And I walk my dog, Lola, every day. To relax, I enjoy bass fishing because it’s all about focus and attention. And I’m playing with our grandkids. I love making them laugh. I’m happily married now to Tracy and I never take her for granted. I appreciate life more than ever because it may be gone in a second.” 

  1. Linda Blankenship, Distribution Center #6065, Harrisonville, MO; $5K Winner

“I suffer from auto-immune disorders and I’ve been in a lot of pain. I’m 57, and I was exhausted. I wasn’t eating enough and I was losing weight and muscle. My swollen knees felt terrible. I made a choice to change my lifestyle and downloaded the Thrive app. I started having breakfast every morning. I’ll make oatmeal or a protein shake. For dinner, I’ll cook chicken in the air fryer. I always have a salad and I might have steamed broccoli or roasted brussels sprouts. I can do a full workout in my home gym, I’ve also started doing yoga and deep stretching and I’m sleeping through the night. My partner, Denny, and I enjoy taking our dog for walks and getting out in the yard together. We grow amarillos, purple irises, and daylilies. I’ve been gaining weight and upper body strength and I feel much better. I’m happy and positive and I wake up feeling loving.”

  1. Jamie Case, Distribution Center #6014, Laurens, SC; $5K Winner

“Weight loss has been my biggest struggle and it’s been really hard since I had a hysterectomy in 2020. My family and I moved from Utah to South Carolina for my work. But our kids were struggling, so my husband and the kids moved back to Utah and I stayed here. I started the Thrive Challenge and I’m focusing on taking care of myself. Instead of eating fast food, I’ll bake chicken and have it with salad or green vegetables. Working out is my passion. I do what I call ‘yogging.’ I’ll walk and then jog and then walk again. My stamina’s improved, I’ve lost 15 pounds, and I feel so motivated. I have a group of friends, a little sisterhood, and we support each other. We share recipe ideas, and we get together once or twice a month. I miss my family, but I know that taking this time for myself is going to make me a better mom. I’m becoming a better version of myself and I’m grateful for each moment.”

Author(s)

  • MT Grant

    General Manager, Walmart

    Thrive Global

    MT leads Thrive Global's partnership with Walmart, impacting the well-being of over 2 million associates. Previously, MT served as Thrive's VP of Customer Success, Strategic Accounts. Prior to Thrive, MT held senior roles at Gusto and Pilot. She resides in Dallas, Texas with her husband Chris and pup Bash.