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

1. Kathy Murphy, Walmart Supercenter #76, Berryville, AR

“I’ve always put everyone else first and I put myself on the backburner. I didn’t feel good about myself and I had no self-esteem. I lived on fast food and I didn’t have the energy for my three-year-old grandson, Denver. I felt like a failure as a grandma. I downloaded the Thrive app and I stopped eating fast food. Now my husband Garry and I make dinner together. We love chicken and fix it different ways. We’ll make lemon pepper chicken or barbecued chicken with veggies. After work, I go to the community center where I meet my sister, Betty. We walk around the track and we use the equipment in the gym. Betty and I go to country music shows on the weekend. Afterwards there’s karaoke and we get up there and dance — I guess you’d call it dancing! I have energy for my grandson, he keeps me running and I tell him he keeps me young! I’ve lost 20 pounds and I feel like a totally new person.”

2. Jennipher Garcia, Walmart Supercenter #470, Corpus Christi, TX

“I was feeling tired and sluggish. I’m 41, my husband, Jose, and I have five children. Our little one, Juvia, wanted me to chase her around, but I had no energy. My doctor told me my blood pressure was a little high and that my blood sugar was too high. My motivation for starting the Thrive Challenge was my kids. I started baking chicken and seafood, and steaming vegetables. We’re eating together and we’re not in a hurry all the time. I’m spending time with my little one — she loves music, so we’re dancing together. In the morning, I take a little walk, I listen to the birds chirping, and squirrels running up the trees. It clears my head. I’ve lost 30 pounds and I’m not tired anymore. My doctor says my blood pressure is lower and my sugar is perfect. I look in the mirror now and say ‘I love the way I look.’ The Thrive Challenge has given me hope and motivation for the future.”

3. Elizabeth Jowers, Walmart Supercenter #593, Douglas, GA

“I’m a busy mom and I had no time for myself. My kids were constantly asking me to play with them, and I was constantly coming up with excuses. I was upset with myself, and my husband Colby and I were bickering all the time. I downloaded the Thrive app and right away I stopped drinking sodas and switched to water. Now, I make time to cook — our favorite meal is spaghetti with chicken and homemade sauce, baked in the oven. We eat at the kitchen table and talk about our day. I prioritize time with my kids. We have a big backyard and we’ll play for hours on the swingset and the trampoline. Colby and I have date nights once a week. We went axe-throwing and really enjoyed ourselves — we haven’t laughed that much in a long time. I’m still hard on myself, but I’m changing my mindset. I’m a better mom, and I’m better in myself. It makes me emotional to say this, but I can actually say I love myself.”

4. Lori Dawkins, Walmart Supercenter #103, Shawnee, OK

“I had a heart attack four and a half years ago, which was a big shock. I was a smoker and I wasn’t eating well. I haven’t touched a cigarette since that day and I started a heart-healthy diet. But I still wasn’t feeling good. My husband, Kevin, and I have 15 grandchildren between us and I wanted to have energy for them. My friend Kathryn Carpitcher — one of this year’s Thrive Challenge Grand Champs — inspired me to download the Thrive app. I began by moving more. I walk a lot and I swim with my granddaughter. I also started gardening and found it relaxing. This summer we grew squash, peppers, and okra. Instead of fast food, we love making turkey and chicken tacos with avocado on top. I’m learning to de-stress and meditate to decompress. The doctor is happy! I’ve lost 42 pounds, my cholesterol is down, and all my numbers are great, I’m just super, super happy.”

5. Samuel Cruz Santiago, Walmart Supercenter #2346, Toa Baja, PR

“For a long time, I was in a habit of eating fast food all the time, and it caused me to have a problem with gastritis. On top of that, my son had gone away to study at university, and we needed help with our finances. At work, Damaris Santos told me about the Thrive Challenge. I knew I needed to make a change, so I started by moving some of our money into a separate account for savings. Every time I get paid, I add some more money into that account. That helped me get into a mindset of saving. Slowly, I started saving up and helping my son with his tuition. I also started making changes to my diet to help with my gastritis. I cut out soda, which was always my biggest vice, and my wife and I started exercising together. Today, my gastritis has gone away, I have so much more energy, and we’re putting away money to help with my son’s tuition. That’s been the change I’m most proud of.”

6. Christina Gentry, Distribution Center #6014; Laurens, SC

“I’m a single mom with three kids and never made time for myself. My mom passed away from COVID when she was 62, and I found it so hard because we were best friends. I’m 46 and I want to be here for my kids, so I started the Thrive Challenge. I make time to walk every day, which I love and it clears my mind. We live on a secluded road and it’s so beautiful looking at the trees and listening to the birds. I’m spending time working in my yard. Cutting my grass is very satisfying and doesn’t feel like a chore. We’ve changed the way we eat. I do meal prepping and make meals in the crock pot like roast beef with potatoes, onion, and carrots. The Thrive Challenge is helping me heal from grief. When I feel emotional I take five minutes to breathe and remember that my mom would want to see us happy. I’m doing a degree in computer science and I feel much more optimistic about the future.”

7. Yolanda Martinez, Fulfillment Center #6253, Tampa, FL

“My family came to Florida from Cuba when I was seven. We were political refugees. My father passed away from cancer, my sister, Ana, got pregnant at 18 and I had to help out with the baby. I never had time for myself. Now I’m 26 and I live with my fiance, Maxine, but I wasn’t taking care of myself. I had stomach problems. The doctor said I needed to change what I was eating. Maxine and I started cooking together. The other day we made mushroom and chicken pasta with tomatoes and spinach and it was delicious. And we have lots of salads. I am comfortable in my body, I feel more energetic, and I’m not bloated anymore. I’m riding my bike around the neighborhood. Being outdoors is one of my favorite things, it helps me clear my mind. Maxine and I take our dog Peanut Butter for walks. We make time for each other now and we’re more united, we’re more ‘together.’ And I feel grateful to be alive.”

8. Matthew Fry, Walmart Customer, Lebanon, TN

“I was a youth pastor working 60 hours a week. The job doesn’t pay a lot so I was working a second job, and I didn’t spend enough time with my wife, Jacklynn, and our three kids. Both my parents work at Walmart and suggested I start the Thrive Challenge. I started in 2019 and my family and I decided to have an adventure. I quit my job and we bought an RV. We spent two years traveling, and we saw 49 states. I started ghostwriting for people, doing their travel blogs. It was amazing — we really connected as a family, spending so much time together. We did a lot of hiking and visited 33 national parks. Being on the road was wonderful for our family. We stopped traveling in January this year and settled in Tennessee. Our goal is to buy a house and travel again every summer. I’ve become the man and husband I want to be and the dad my kids deserve. As cheesy as it sounds, we’re not just living, we’re thriving.”

9. Maja Ainsworth, Walmart Supercenter #1907, Hinsdale, NH

“​​I lived in Serbia most of my life, and I was always healthy and weighed around 130 pounds. Then I got married in 2018 and moved to the US, and it was a huge change for me. I ended up getting to 210 pounds. I knew something had to change, but the real turning point was when my husband, David, bought us two bicycles to ride together and I couldn’t even ride the bike. I called a nutritionist and started learning about portion sizes and nutrition. Then, my husband helped me start working out. I started riding on a stationary bike, and starting with just five minutes was a struggle. But I worked my way up to half an hour and now I can do even more! I’ve also started taking martial arts classes and I love them. I have so much energy after class. I’ve finally lost weight and it’s made the biggest difference on my back and my knees. I have more energy now and I feel great.”

10. Judy Mahle, Walmart Supercenter #1013, Clinton, IN

“I started putting on weight during COVID from all the stress. It got to a point where my whole body ached and my doctor was worried about my blood pressure. I remember saying to myself, ‘I’ve got to be here.’ I have a grandson who I want to be around for, and a wonderful team at work and family life. It got overwhelming and I needed to get into a new routine. My doctor had helped tell me about nutrition and what I should be staying away from, so I started cutting out desserts, cookies, and all the sugary things. I also started walking in the morning. I would get to work an hour earlier to walk around the parking lot, and when it got colder outside I’d walk inside. My coworkers started noticing and they would encourage me. Now, I come into work with so much energy and I feel better. I’ve worked for Walmart for 38 years and I finally feel like I’m giving my all again.” 

11. Carlos Tavarez, Walmart Supercenter #2346, Toa Baja, PR

“Before starting the Thrive Challenge, I felt stagnant, tired, and really unmotivated. My self-esteem was also low because I didn’t feel fulfilled in my personal goals. I saw a poster about the Thrive Challenge on a bulletin board at work, and noticed a coworker of mine, Luis Cordero, was featured. It caught my attention, and I remember looking in the mirror that day and thinking, ‘I’m starting today.’ I made a goal to exercise a few times a week, and I started with running and then added in other types of workouts. I wear a watch that counts my steps, so I use it for my runs to track my progress week to week. That really motivated me, and I started training for a half marathon. My family has been really supportive. It gives me the momentum to keep going –– and it’s great to spend that time together! I feel more optimistic and motivated now. I have a new focus and new goals, and I’m excited to keep learning and letting go of fear.”

12. Archana Sharma, Walmart Supercenter #2277; Clovis, CA

“I am a 33-year-old single mom with a 10-year-old son, Henry. I moved to America from India with my husband. We separated four years ago, and I felt totally alone. I was behind on my rent and I felt stressed. We’d eat fast food. I had high cholesterol and the doctor put me on medicine. I got my job at Walmart, downloaded the Thrive app, and learned how to budget and manage money. I stopped eating out and whenever I get my paycheck, I put $100 away. I can pay my rent now and I can pay my bills on time. I started cooking Indian food like lentil curry with veggies. Henry and I dance together and laugh together. And we go to the park. I’m connecting with my family, I talk on FaceTime to my mom in India. And I’ve made good friends at Walmart. My cholesterol is back to normal. I don’t need medicine and I feel so much better. I’m 100 percent sure I’m going to have a super good future.”

13. Heather Nunn, Walmart Store #2326, Hornell, NY

“In 2020, my mom passed away. She lived with us and helped me and my husband, Gary, raise our five kids. I miss her so much. I was eating anything and everything. I weighed 257 pounds and my doctor said I was pre-diabetic. My friend, Kevin Lowe, encouraged me to download the Thrive app. Now, we eat lots of fresh veggies. Our favorite meal is spaghetti, but I use zucchini noodles instead of regular pasta. I’m exercising every day — it’s my ‘me time.’ I love doing 10Ks for charity. The support in our store is amazing, we’re cheerleaders for each other. Whenever I see Kevin, he says ‘Woohoo, Heather. I’m proud of you.’ Gary and I both stopped smoking. I have much more energy, and I don’t have joint pain. I’ve lost over a hundred pounds in the last year, and I’m not pre-diabetic anymore. We’re saving $400 a month. We’ve finally been pre-approved to buy the house we’re renting and we’re so happy.”

14. Paul Hollister, Walmart Store #2326, Hornell, NY

“Growing up, I lived out in the country with my family and I had no friends. I felt very self-conscious. We were pretty poor and didn’t eat well. As an adult, I still felt self conscious. At work, Kevin Lowe, a Thrive Grand Champ talked about the Thrive Challenge and I got started. I started hiking with my roommate, Carrie. We encourage each other. I’ll knock on her door and see if she wants to go to the gym. I cut out fast food. For dinner, I’ll have baked chicken with broccoli or carrots. I’ve lost 70 pounds and I feel so much happier. My roommates and I cook together on Sundays. We support each other and tell each other what we are going through. It’s a real community in our house. My passion is music, and I love going to concerts and festivals. I’m into heavy metal — it helps to relax me and makes me feel good. I love my life, and I know I can be myself.” 

15. April Harris, Walmart Supercenter #715, Tuscaloosa, AL

“In June, I broke up with my boyfriend. I was homeless and I had to live in my car. I distanced myself from people, mostly from shame. I was eating a lot of fast food and gained weight. I read the Thrive Challenge Entry Book in the break room and downloaded the Thrive app. For a while, I rented a room with a friend, and then I bought a nice camper. Things are much better and I’m saving to buy a tiny home. It’s time for me to have a home of my own. I made a budget and started tracking my spending. If I felt like spending money I’d take a walk. I think about positive things in my life, like that I have a job and I’m a good person. I make better food choices. I cook fish and make vegetable stew. I’ve reconnected with my first love, Brandon, and we’re in a good relationship. I can see light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m finally thriving.”

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.