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 June. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Stefanii Faulkenberry, Walmart Supercenter #103, Shawnee, OK

“I’ve always put everyone else before me. I had my daughter, Lynda, when I was 19, and I was a single parent. Now I’m 48, and married, but I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was eating a lot of fast food. I became pre-diabetic and I had high blood pressure. Candie Holland, my co-worker, inspired me to start the Thrive Challenge. My first Microstep was meal prepping. I’ll make salads for the week and add tuna or chicken. I’m not tempted to eat fast food. I’ll say to myself, ‘You’re not gonna blow this, you don’t need those chips!’ Daniel and I take our dogs to the dog park. We walk to the mailbox instead of driving and I’m getting into the habit of doing 10 minute exercise videos. I’ve lost 20 pounds and I’m not pre-diabetic any more. My blood pressure has gone down. I have an ‘I can do this’ attitude. I’ve changed my mindset and I have a better outlook on life.”

Eric Church, Optical Lab #9065, Crawfordsville, IN

“Recently, I’d gained weight and wasn’t taking care of myself. I’m 41, I’m single, and after work, I just went home on my own. And I wasn’t exercising. My co-worker, Tammy Fry, said, ‘you’ve got to do the Thrive Challenge!’ I wanted to thrive and I started by getting outdoors and walking a thousand steps a day. Walking boosted my self-esteem, and now I’m up to 10 miles a day. I cut out fast food; I’m eating lots of salads and veggies. In January, I completed a virtual marathon on the treadmill. I felt so accomplished, because I’d pushed myself to achieve something I never thought I could do. I’m training with a Christian group — I’ve made good friends and I have a strong community. It’s great for motivation and accountability. I’ve taken part in several half marathons now, and I feel proud of myself. I’m spending time with my family — I love reading to my young nieces and nephews. I feel excited about life — I’m happier than I’ve ever been.”

Katie Stephenson, Neighborhood Market #4233, Phoenix, AZ

“I’m a single mom with a 2-year-old daughter, Kimberly. I was in an abusive marriage and last year I drove with the baby from Montana to Arizona, where my family lives. I have a lot of support, but it’s hard finding time for myself so, I decided to start the Thrive Challenge. I started to go to the gym on my lunch break. At home, I do workout videos, or I’ll put on music and Kimberly and I will dance. I’m eating better. I’ve come up with simple meals like baked turkey or fish with quinoa and a side salad. I take Kimberly to church, which helps me stay positive, and it’s a good way to meet people. My friend, Ann, and I went to Tucson on a girls’ trip. I went skiing for the first time, which was really awesome. I’m feeling grateful. I was out walking with my little girl, looking at the beautiful yellow spring flowers and thinking how happy I am. I feel safe and secure.”

Crystal Sulffridge, Walmart Supercenter #76, Berryville, AR

“I had severe acid reflux and other health problems. My husband, John, and I have a blended family with four kids and life was hectic. Sometimes I’d grab fast food because it was easy. I weighed 250 pounds. I withdrew from people and felt depressed. My friend, Rose Maxwell, inspired me to download the Thrive app. My first Microstep was carrying a water bottle everywhere. My youngest, Emily, who’s 14, loves to cook with me. We’ll make chicken fajitas or honey sesame chicken. Our whole management team is on the Challenge. It’s great because we have accountability. I’ve lost 23 pounds and my acid reflux is a lot better. On our days off, my husband, John and I go for hikes, and we’re having monthly dates. I’m bonding with my son, Logan. We went to a Lil Nas X concert and had a blast. For quiet time, I love to drive, listening to music and singing along. I was always cheering everyone else on, and now I’m cheering myself on.”

Pamela Dockery, Walmart Supercenter #5487, Travelers Rest, SC

“I moved with my kids back into our family home to take care of my aging parents. I was grabbing fast food, I weighed 340 pounds, and I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. And my lower back and knees hurt. I was sick of being sick and tired so I downloaded the Thrive app. I started parking my car farther back in the parking lot at work. I added more steps month after month. My daughter, Savannah, and I go for walks in nature; everything’s blooming and coming alive. There’s no more fried food at our house. I’m baking chicken or salmon with lemon and olive oil. I went on vacation with three girlfriends to St. Thomas. I was so excited to wear my new bathing suit. One Microstep that’s really helped me is setting boundaries. This is the time for me to say no to people. The Thrive Challenge is helping me heal. I’m not depressed anymore, I feel wonderful — and I’m well on the way to achieving my goals.”

Jarryn Robertson, Walmart Home Office, Bentonville, AR

“I have a painful medical condition called lipedema, which means I have an abnormal buildup of fat in my legs. It really affected my confidence because it made me uncomfortable about my appearance. I wasn’t eating well, I was gaining weight, and I was depressed. My co-worker, Candie Holland, encouraged me to take the Thrive Challenge. The first thing I did was to walk to the park. It felt so good, just moving my legs, and I walk every day now. I’ve switched to a low carb diet with lots of veggies. I’m from Louisiana and my favorite recipe is smothered okra cooked in tomato sauce with turkey sausage and shrimp. My grandmother used to make it. I’ve lost 40 pounds and I feel great. Next month I’m going to a gala and I bought a black dress with sequins to wear that fits perfectly. My husband and I are planning a trip to Jamaica to see his family, and I feel so much better about myself, I might even wear a bathing suit!”

Brice Driggers, Fulfillment Center #2076, Laurens, SC

“I was in a fender bender and I had to have shoulder surgery. I gained weight and that resulted in knee and back pain. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror, so I downloaded the Thrive app. My wife, Keri, and I are doing intermittent fasting. We cook salmon or chicken in the airfryer. Our four-year-old, Logan, loves to help us cook. She’ll stir and help me season. I started walking 1000 steps a day. I progressed from there and now I walk 11 thousand steps a day. In the evening, we walk around our neighborhood with our dogs, and Logan likes to hold the leash. I just took a scuba diving class, which was amazing. I’m going diving with my son, Connor, to The Outer Banks in North Carolina, where there’s a bunch of shipwrecks. I’m so excited! I’ve lost 45 pounds, and I’m pain free. But this journey isn’t just about losing weight, it’s about making better decisions. I used to be exhausted, but now, oh man, I feel alive.”

Jeneé Hensley, Walmart Home Office, Bentonville, AR

“My family and I went through a traumatic series of events that shook us to the core. I can’t go into details, but I was struggling and I went into a depression. My husband, Jesse, and I have two daughters. We have a wonderful family, but we were having a hard time. My colleague at work, Debbie Mink, inspired me to start the Thrive Challenge. I connected with a counselor, who is very empathetic and helped me navigate everything I was going through. I started a morning routine — meditating and praying. Then I’ll do a mini zumba workout and a kettlebell workout. I’ve started to feel like myself again. Our faith supports us. Our church gives us community and fellowship. Gardening is my passion, and the kids love to help. Gardening is a beautiful metaphor for life. When you take the time to nurture a plant and you see the beautiful outcome, it makes every bit of the work worth it. And it’s the same with us, we need to take care of ourselves.”

Alex Medina, Sam’s Club #8149, Green Bay, WI

“I was a workaholic and I wasn’t taking care of myself. At work, I wouldn’t eat at all, then I’d go home and eat pizza. I’m 29, and I was depressed. My co-worker, Terri Wagner, had won the Thrive Challenge and she sat with me while I downloaded the Thrive app. I started by drinking a cup of water in the morning. I stopped drinking pop — I don’t even like the taste anymore, it’s too sweet. My husband is a trained chef and he’s making delicious stir fries. My heritage is Mexican and I love making dishes my mom made for us when we were little, like tacos or rice and beans. My sister, Marlene, and I are training for a half marathon. I used to run in high school and I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed it. It feels great to run again. I have deeper connections — I’m happy and I’m excited about life. I know that as long as I’m part of the Thrive community, life will get better and better.”

Maurice Davis, Distribution Center #7078, Elwood, IL

“I’ve always tried to be a good dad for my daughters, Olivia, who’s 12, and 11-year-old Mia. I’m divorced and the girls live with me. But I felt like I wasn’t giving them enough attention. Also, I wasn’t taking care of myself. I wasn’t excited about the way my life was tracking. I was inspired to start the Thrive Challenge, and first I made going to the gym part of my routine. I do cardio and weights. And when the girls are in school, I walk with my dog, Sway. Being in nature is calming. I’m making home-cooked meals. I tried my hand at lasagne and it came out well, which was a plus because my kids are picky eaters! I’ve lost 12 pounds and I feel great. But the biggest change isn’t the weight loss. I have more energy and I’m more active with my daughters. I’m getting in tune with them as individuals, and I’m proud of myself. We’re closer as a family and we’re creating great memories.”

Chris McGee, Distribution Center #6014, Laurens, SC

“I had issues with eating late at night — I’d have junk food like pizza. I didn’t have energy for my wife, Christina, and our three-year old, Nathan. My son was my motivation to change — I want to keep up with him. I started the Thrive Challenge and I began meal prepping. We’re baking chicken or we’ll make salmon, brown rice, and salad. Eating well has become second nature, and I’ve lost 10 pounds. I’ve turned my garage into a mini gym. I bought baby dumbbells for Nathan, and he’ll copy me doing push-ups! I used to play basketball at school and I’ve started playing again. It’s pretty cool to be back on the court. Before the challenge I was a homebody; now, we go to the park which has little creeks. Nathan loves to step on the rocks and splash in the water. Christina and I schedule couple time. It’s important not to lose our connection as a couple. The Thrive Challenge has shown me I can accomplish my goals.” 

Chinnu Simon, Walmart Supercenter #2804, Oklahoma City, OK

“I didn’t have a good work life balance. I’m a pharmacist, and I love my job, but it’s been difficult making time for my husband and our two young sons. I wasn’t eating well; I’d grab fried chicken from the deli. I wanted to change my lifestyle, so I downloaded the Thrive app. My husband and I began cooking together. We’ll make salmon in the airfryer with lemon, and have it with cauliflower rice. I do walking videos — it feels so good to get moving. And the boys and I do goofy dancing to Taylor Swift songs. Justin and I started going on dates once a month. We’ll drop off the boys with my parents — they’re such a support. I started a little garden in the backyard — that’s my “me time.” I’ve planted tomatoes, cucumbers, and my favorite herb, parsley. I don’t do everything 100 percent all the time, but I know what I do is enough. I feel more confident, I have more energy for my kids and a positive outlook.”

Luis Garcia, Walmart Supercenter #1698, Hooksett, NH

“My job as a store manager is great, but I didn’t have a good work-life balance. My wife and I have two daughters, and I was stressed. I was drinking too much alcohol. I’m 41 and I have type 2 diabetes, and my doctor said, ‘You need to stop drinking.’ I learned about the Thrive Challenge from my friend, Adam Rizzo. And I began by pulling out the treadmill that was sitting in the basement collecting dust. I started walking for 30 minutes, and now, I’m jogging. I cut down how many drinks I had at night, and now, I’ve cut out alcohol completely. I’m eating in a different way, and we’re food prepping. I’ll marinate shrimp and chicken thighs and grill them, so they’ll last for a few days. I feel 20 years younger and I’ve lost 35 pounds. I just saw my doctor and my A1C is down. I’m thinking more positively and I know I’m a better dad for my girls — I’m going to be there for them.”

Belinda Carsley, Walmart Store #1843, Mcminnville, OR

“During COVID, I was working as a nursing assistant. We lost a lot of patients and it was stressful — I gained a lot of weight. When I joined Walmart, my store manager encouraged me to download the Thrive app. My husband, David, and I began making home-cooked meals and watching our carbs. I make pizza with cauliflower crust — even my grandkids like them. David and I are walking our dogs together. It gives us time to reflect and talk about our dreams. We discuss how, when we retire, we’re going to drive around the country. We’re doing yard work and planting flowers, strawberry plants, and tomatoes. Gardening brings me a lot of joy. I’ve lost a lot of weight and I feel more confident. I’m coming out of my shell and actually making friends with myself. My blood pressure and cholesterol went way down, and I’m no longer pre-diabetic. This sounds kind of silly, but I consider Thrive to be one of my best friends. It never judges you and won’t let you down.”

David Van Dyne, Distribution Center #6037, Hermiston, OR

“I retired from the Marine Corps, which was a huge change for me. My wife Shannon and I and our two young sons moved from San Diego to Washington. I’ve been getting situated in my new job at Walmart. And it’s been a tough transition. I’d stopped working out and I wanted to get active again. I downloaded the Thrive app, and began by getting back to the gym, and back into my workout regimen. That helped me physically and mentally. Then I started a high-protein diet. For dinner, we cook chicken or fish with good seasoning and steamed vegetables. The evening is Dad Time — I focus on the boys. We do coloring, and we make models with Play-Doh. Then I’ll get them ready for bed. On the weekend, we take them to the park. Shannon and I are bonding; we’re going for walks, and we’re gardening together. We’re making a beautiful English garden with roses. Thrive has allowed me to work out my stressors. I’m more focused and I’m happier.”

Brittany Foss, Walmart Supercenter #2405, Hamburg, NY

“In June 2021, I had COVID and I was on a ventilator for 16 days. When I was recovering, I realized I needed to change. I had no work-life balance and I wasn’t taking care of myself. My husband, Patrick, and I were eating fast food all the time. Our market manager inspired me to download the Thrive app. My first Microstep was drinking water first thing in the morning; then I stretch for 20 minutes. And I say out loud what I’m grateful for. Instead of eating out, I’m cooking. I make ground turkey meatballs with parmesan cheese and butternut squash that is absolutely to die for! I’ve also fallen in love with the gym. I’ve lost 20 pounds and I feel energized and empowered. Being in nature is peaceful. My husband and I will take a picnic and go hiking at Niagara Falls. There’s been a 180 degree change. I have more confidence, I’m more joyful, and I have a new perspective. Everyone in my family says ‘Brittany is back!’”

Kassyndra Gadlen, Walmart Supercenter #177; Paris, TN

“I helped to take care of my father who had a disease that affected the nervous system, and when he passed away, it was hard. I gained a lot of weight because I was stress eating. I’m 33 and I had high blood pressure. I had a lot of anxiety and stress. My friend, Tammy Coday, inspired me to start the Thrive Challenge. The first thing I did was to move more. I bought a Peloton and I love it. I’m cooking instead of eating fast food. For dinner, I make delicious pizza using lavash bread with marinara sauce. I’ve lost 31 pounds and I feel great. And my blood pressure’s back to normal. I bought my own house and I love yard work — making everything look neat and pretty. I’m dealing with my anxiety and have less stress. I miss my dad a lot, but I know he’s in a better place. And I know he’d be proud of me. I have a more positive attitude and I feel so much better.”

Kathryn Marks, Walmart Supercenter #4597, North Tonawanda, NY

“My husband, Joe, passed away eight years ago. I have an eight-year-old daughter, Hannah, and I take care of my mom who has early stage dementia. I put on weight and my A1C was out of control. Brandi, our store manager, got us all excited about the Thrive Challenge. I downloaded the app and started meal prepping. I’ll pack chicken with broccoli or chicken salad for lunch. Hannah loves to cook with me. We make delicious ground turkey meatballs with rigatoni, and I’ll sneak in shredded carrots. Hannah and I love to have kitchen dance-offs — we laugh and have a great time. We go hiking to Niagara Falls, which is my favorite place on earth; it’s gorgeous, and only 15 minutes away. It’s the one place I feel totally peaceful. My mom and I have always been close, and we’re communicating better. I’ve lost 20 pounds, and I’ve lowered my blood pressure. I feel proud of myself. Things are falling into place and I’m at peace.”