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 18 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 18 winners for the month of March. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Tonyua Adams, Neighborhood Market #3450, Killeen, TX

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“My son, Eddy, passed away from heart failure. He was 26, and I basically gave up on everything and put my life on hold. I wasn’t spending time with my husband, Tony, or our other three kids. I was eating to try and find happiness and gained a lot of weight. Thrive was calling my name and I downloaded the app. I decided to have weight-loss surgery, but it wasn’t a shortcut. You literally have to change your mindset and that’s where Thrive comes in. The accountability and direction gave me the support I needed. My husband and I are taking the Challenge together. We’re meal prepping and going to the gym. I’ve lost weight and I feel amazing. I joined the Ladies Discipleship Class at my church and we support each other. It’s not easy to talk about losing my son — grief is something that never goes away — but I’ve been able to let a lot of it go. I see Eddy’s life now as a blessing.”

Daniel Wagganer, HVFC #4124, Lebanon, TN

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“I was a workaholic and I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was eating fast food and I didn’t feel good. On the weekend, I’d shut myself off from the world. I didn’t spend time with my girlfriend, Kailey, or my family. I started working for Walmart and I was inspired to start the Thrive Challenge by my co-worker, Shawanda Hunter. I like the way you set yourself small goals that are easy to achieve. I started running and began with 10 minutes on the treadmill. I’m now up to four miles. And I’ve added weight lifting to the mix. Kailey and I are bonding. We take my dog, Mac, for walks in nature. We both love cooking — it’s a team effort. We’ll chop up squash, mushrooms, jalapeños, and peppers and throw in shrimp and scallops with red sauce. It’s our “go-to” dinner. I’m more focused at work, but my job doesn’t define me. I don’t live to work anymore — I work to live, and I can honestly say that I’m extremely happy.”

John Tyler, Neighborhood Market #2632, Phoenix, AZ

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“My parents divorced when I was young and my mom raised us. We ate the cheap meals she could afford, like pizza and burgers. And as an adult, I’ve always been overweight. At my heaviest I weighed 478. Last year I got pneumonia and I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. I’m only 42 and it was a wake up call. I want to be here for my wife, Rachel, and our kids. Rachel encouraged me to download the Thrive app and we’re taking the Challenge together. My first Microstep was moving my body. We’re going on family walks with our four dogs. I’m done with fast food. Rachel and I cook together. We’ll make chicken and fish, and I love cooking ‘zoodles’ (zucchini noodles) with ground turkey and diced tomatoes. I’ve lost a lot of weight. When I saw my cardiologist, he was super impressed. My blood pressure’s down. I’m on the way to a longer life and I’ll be here for the people I love.”

Hannah Olson, Walmart Supercenter #76, Berryville, AR

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“My stepfather went to prison and I was feeling very bitter and mad at him. I was struggling. I was always tired, and I was eating a lot of junk food. My friend, Paula Smith, encouraged me to get started. And I began with the Microstep of walking 1000 steps before work. I use the treadmill at our community center and now I’m doing weights. I live with my mom on our family’s farm and we walk together. I cut down on fast food. For dinner, I’ll make grilled chicken marinated in Italian dressing and broccoli. To relax, I spend time with my friends. There are five of us, and we’ve all been friends since high school. I’ve lost 10 pounds and I feel more confident. Meditation helps me stay positive. I’m learning to forgive and forget. I feel a lot better about my life and I see a positive future for myself.”

Gabino Suarez, Return Center #9153, Waco, TX

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“When it came to eating, I had no discipline. We ate out a lot as a family and I gained weight. In December last year, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I’m only 48, and it was an eye-opener. On the Thrive app, I read about Bill LeTexier, a guy who had diabetes and changed his life with Microsteps. His story inspired me to get started. I stopped eating out. Me and my family are grilling chicken and shrimp and I’m using smaller plates so I don’t eat too much. I’m walking with my wife, Katherine, and I’m lifting weights. I have the energy to play sports with our two boys. I’ve lost 27 pounds, and I have much more confidence. My faith supports me. We pray as a family, which gives me strength. Taking care of myself is a habit now. My goal is to reverse my diabetes. I know I’m going to do it — I’m going to be here for my boys.”

David Layton, Distribution Center #6031, Buckeye, AZ

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“My wife, Kimberly, and I have two grown sons and three grandchildren, but I never had the energy to do anything with them. I’d eat anything you could grab and go. I was on a fishing trip last September when I had a heart attack. I had open heart surgery and the surgeons also found a mass on my kidney. They froze the tumor, but it was a huge shock. I started the Thrive Challenge, and my first small change was walking around the neighborhood. I gradually built my stamina and now I’m walking three miles a day. I haven’t had a soda since last September! Kimberly and I are cooking together. I always make my plate colorful with lots of vegetables. I have the energy to play with my grandkids. Instead of sitting on the couch with tablets, we go to the park, kick a soccer ball, and run around. I’ve lost 40 pounds and my doctors are elated. And after tackling what I’ve been through, I know I can tackle anything.”

John Hillier, Sam’s Club #4784, Las Cruces, NM

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“I was eating anything and everything, and I weighed 325 pounds. I started to feel dizzy and I couldn’t see properly. I went to the doctor and I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It was time to make some changes — and I downloaded the Thrive app. The first thing I did was cut out fast food. I started reading food labels. I don’t buy anything with added sugar or high fructose corn syrup. For dinner, I’ll throw chicken in the pan with cilantro and lime, and I’ll have a salad and pinto beans. My wife Michelle  and I joined a gym. I ride the exercise bike and walk on the treadmill. My kids are happy because I have more energy. We’ll go for hikes together, and they encourage me. They say, ‘Hey dad, let’s go for a walk.’ I have less pain and I can see again — I can read! It used to be a chore to walk upstairs, but now it’s easy. I’ve lost 35 pounds and I feel like a new man.”

Sandra Raines, Market Office #93, Ocala, FL

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“A few years ago, I had a mass on my ovary and I had a full hysterectomy. It wasn’t cancerous, but I started to gain a lot of weight. I was eating fast food and I had high blood pressure. In July, I had bariatric surgery, but I still needed to change my mindset and my lifestyle. I downloaded the Thrive app and I cut out fast food and soda. I started eating fruit and vegetables. And I go to the gym with my co-worker. Working out with a friend is great for moral support. My family and I spent three days at a Christian festival. We had a blast. I could actually go on the rides with my grandchildren. I’ve lost a lot of weight. I went from size 20 to size 12. But my main goal wasn’t about looking better, it was about feeling better. I have better mental clarity and I’m not in pain. This has not been an easy journey and I’m proud of my progress.”

Jimmy Miller, Walmart Supercenter #1765, Somerset, PA

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“Last year, I became very depressed. I realized my sadness was triggered by trauma and rejection from my childhood. When I was three, my mother gave up her parental rights and left me and my sister with my dad. He remarried and my stepmom didn’t care for kids. There was a lot of drinking. I’m 45 now, and at Christmas, my fiancé left me. It was traumatic and I decided to start the Thrive Challenge. I started by moving my body and I joined a hiking challenge. Being outdoors in nature is exhilarating, and I’m not consumed with my thoughts. I hike with friends from my church, like Dick. We talk about life, our relationship with God, and how we’re encouraging one another. My relationship with my son, Ethan, is great. We love to cook or pick a new restaurant. My family has done a lot of healing. My mom and I are communicating, and I’ve forgiven my dad. At 45, I’m figuring out who I am. And I just want to love people.”

Hannah Gomez, Walmart Supercenter #4597, North Tonawanda, NY

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“My 19-year-old daughter, Dayna, developed an eating disorder and she was critically ill. She’s much better now, but I was overwhelmed, and I was eating a lot of junk food. Then my mom, who’s my rock, was diagnosed with stage 4 Ovarian cancer. I downloaded the Thrive app and I started skipping the sugar and snacks. Dayna and I are cooking together. We’ll get chicken tenderloins, add some parmesan cheese, then bake it. It’s delicious. And we go over to my mom’s house to cook with her. It feels good to have the three of us together, supporting and loving each other. I have more energy for my grandson, Angel, who’s three. We like to play and read together. To relax, I do short yoga videos. And I’m cherishing every moment I have with my mom. She cared for me her whole life and now I just want to take care of her. But I’ve also learned that I need to take care of myself — it’s time to start loving myself again.”

Juan Ambriz, Walmart Supercenter #1015, El Paso, TX

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“I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my life. Now I’m 27 and I was always eating fast food. My wife, Andrea, and I have two daughters. But I was too tired to spend time with them. I looked at the scale one day and knew I needed to change. I weighed 260 pounds. Andrea and I downloaded the Thrive app. We’re doing the Challenge together and we began by doing a healthy grocery order — we bought chicken, turkey, yogurt, fruit, and vegetables. I love burgers so Andrea came up with a recipe for burgers with lean ground meat and low calorie buns. They’re delicious. I’m moving more at work. And I take four-year-old Aria to the park to practice T-ball. At home, we’re always running around playing hide-and-seek. I love to see them smile. I’ve lost 34 pounds and I feel like a brand new person. My wife and I are much closer and I am the dad I want to be. I know I’ll be there for my family.”

Justin Duarte, Walmart Supercenter #2734, Norman, OK

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“In the past five years, I gained a lot of weight. I was up to 260 pounds, and I’m not gonna lie, I felt depressed. I’m getting married to my girlfriend, Ashton, in October, and I want to be healthy and feel good, so I started the Thrive Challenge. My first step was cutting out sugar. I also cut out red meat. Then I stopped drinking alcohol — I haven’t had a drink now for two months, and I feel much better. Ashton and I take our Cairn Terrier, Bruno, for walks. We really enjoy being outdoors. Once a week we play Lego and we try not to be on our phones. I have so much energy — I feel amazing. And I’m down 31 pounds. I’m looking forward to our wedding. I know I’ll be able to pick out a great suit and I’ll look good in it. And I know I’ll be the dad I want to be when we have kids. I won’t be sitting on the couch.” 

Miguel Mercado, Fulfillment Center #7559, Bethlehem, PA

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“I went through a bad break-up with my boyfriend of five years, and it left me feeling alone. I was eating a lot of fast food and pizza, and I weighed 265 pounds. I wanted to focus on myself, and become a better person. Last December, I downloaded the Thrive app. To begin, I gave up fast food. I’m enjoying learning new recipes. I love a simple Caesar salad — I just don’t drown it in dressing. My mom and I are cooking and working out together, and we’re bonding. I’ve lost a lot of weight and I feel great. I’ve bought new clothes. I feel really good in my blue jeans and a white T-shirt. Every morning I tell myself I’m worthy of being happy and loving myself. My goal is to be an HR manager. I’m doing my bachelor’s degree, and I’ll graduate in October. I feel accomplished. The Thrive Challenge is about a lot more than losing weight for me; it’s about my mental health, my confidence, and my relationship with myself. I’m simply happy.”

Ashley Davis, Walmart Supercenter #593, Douglas, GA

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“My biggest struggle was my weight. I was eating fast food and I was always dragging. I didn’t feel like doing anything with my three daughters. I was inspired to download the Thrive app by my friend, Elizabeth Jowers. I’m cooking healthy food, like chicken with steamed rice and veggies. I have the motivation to get out and do things with the family. We’ll play basketball or softball with the girls. Hula hooping makes me happy. The girls are usually with me, hooping and dancing. We all giggle and it makes me feel like I did when I was a kid. I’ve lost 42 pounds and I have much more confidence. My girls are my biggest cheerleaders. And I feel amazing because I’m showing them they can do anything they set their minds to. The Thrive Challenge has changed my life. I feel healthier, happier, and hopeful.”

Ann Carter, Distribution Center #6020, Brooksville, FL

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“During the pandemic, my mom caught COVID and barely survived. I was so relieved that she made it through, but just a few months later, she was diagnosed with cancer. Just like that, she was gone. I was in a dark place. I was working myself to death, and I wasn’t taking care of myself anymore. Then one day I grabbed one of the Thrive Challenge Entry Books in the breakroom and it was the push I needed to get started. My first step was declaring an end to my workday. Once a week, I take a few hours for myself. It helps me find balance. Having healthier boundaries is giving me more confidence, and the app helps me maintain all the effort I’ve put in so far. I’m happy that I can look back on the dark place I was in before, and see where I am now. I’m very appreciative of everything I have that life has given me.”

Yadiel González-Sonera, Walmart Supercenter #987, Fort Myers, FL

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“I grew up in Puerto Rico, and my family moved to the United States when I was 15. It was hard fitting in at school and interacting with people. I didn’t feel comfortable talking about my feelings. I wanted deeper connections, and I downloaded the Thrive app. I began by stepping out of my comfort zone and reaching out to friends. We’ve been playing golf and watching sports together. My girlfriend, Ali, and I are bonding and listening to each other. We go to the gym together. She’s also from Puerto Rico, and we’re connecting with our culture. We’re cooking Puerto Rican food, like mofongo. We’re also playing dominoes and listening to Puerto Rican music, like Bad Bunny and Arcángel. We like to dance, and we’re relearning steps we’d forgotten. The Thrive Challenge has given me a daily routine that helps with everything. My self-esteem’s improved, and I’m enjoying life. I’m happy.” 

Craig Parfinski, Walmart Supercenter #4597, North Tonawanda, NY

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“I lost a lot of family to COVID, and it weighed on me a lot. I tend to self-isolate and take it out on myself when things don’t go well. I lost who I was and isolated myself from the world including people that cared about me. My first step was to start moving every day. I would wake up every morning at 6 o’clock and go for a walk. Once I did that, I noticed how much better I was feeling, and I decided to change how I was eating as well. Martial arts has helped me a lot. It gives me a safe place to take out my anger and frustration. People around me notice the change. The more confident I became, the more people wanted to be around me. My overall quality of life has increased a lot. I could not be more grateful for a community of people that keeps me on the right path.”

Alexis Anderson, Walmart Supercenter #593, Douglas, GA

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“Before starting the Thrive Challenge, I was always exhausted and struggling to figure out healthy things to eat. I felt sluggish at work, and I didn’t have any energy to play with my kids. And I was putting my unhealthy eating habits on them by always feeding them fast food. The first thing I focused on was trying to get a bit more exercise every day. I was up to 10 or 12 sodas a day, but I’ve replaced all of that with water. My kids are eating better which makes me feel better as a mom. We sit down and eat together after cooking now as opposed to when we were eating out. I’m spending a lot more time with my family now that I’m not feeling so tired all the time, and I’m not dragging at work. My eldest daughter said ‘Mama, you do so much more with us now!’ It was awesome — it just made me feel really good about myself and about what I was doing.”


  • MT Grant

    SVP, Customer Success

    Thrive Global

    MT Grant is the SVP, Customer Success at Thrive Global, where she oversees customer success, implementation, and support. Most recently, MT was General Manager of the Walmart partnership. Prior to joining Thrive in 2019, MT held sales leadership positions at Pilot and Gusto. MT received her B.A. and MBA from University of Texas at El Paso, where she was the captain of the volleyball team. She lives in Texas with her husband Chris, the Southland Conference Commissioner, and mini goldendoodle Bash.