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

Crystal Keough, Walmart Supercenter #103, Shawnee, OK

“I’m 35 and I have a 14-year-old son, Tristen, who I’m raising without any help. Life was stressful. We ate a lot of processed food like frozen pizza and chicken nuggets. I weighed 373 pounds and I hurt my ankle. My doctor told me I needed to lose weight and my co-worker Kathryn Carpitcher inspired me to get started. I cut out processed food and quit drinking soda. I plan dinners now like pot roast and veggies cooked in the crockpot, or chicken wrapped in spinach. Devices are not allowed at the table. Tristen and I work out at the YMCA and we walk around the neighborhood together. I enjoy color by numbers — I find coloring very calming and it helps me de-stress. I’m focusing on the good things in my life rather than the hard things. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be back in school, and I’ll be finishing my degree in August. I feel I can do anything and the future looks bright.”

Kennedy Tengelitsch, Walmart Supercenter #2338, Traverse City, MI

“I had depression and anxiety as a child. I was average sized, but I was told I was overweight. I’m 21 now, and my partner, Jared, and I have a one-year-old son, Artemis. After giving birth, I was always tired. I was sad because my body never bounced back, and I gave up on myself. A co-worker, Stacey, inspired me to start the Thrive Challenge. I stopped eating processed food. Jared and I are cooking dinner together. We’re making lasagna and broccoli cheddar bake and we’re eating more veggies. Jared and I dance in the kitchen. We love doing the waltz. It’s very sweet and heartwarming. The baby will be in his playpen or bouncer laughing and watching us. I’m walking more and I’ve lost 16 pounds. I’m feeling much more energetic. I draw pictures of myself, and I’m appreciating my beauty. I know I’m allowed to be human and be myself. I feel super awesome, and I’m on track and I’m motivated. I’m a better person and a better mom.”

Allen Webb, Walmart Supercenter #121, Okmulgee, OK

“I was battling depression and couldn’t sleep without prescription sleeping pills. I was eating every meal out, I weighed 350 pounds, and my knees hurt. I downloaded the Thrive app because I wanted to make a positive change in my life. Sleep was the first thing I tackled. Now, I stop watching T.V. and disconnect from electronics two hours before bed time. I journal at night, spending time in personal reflection. I stopped taking sleeping pills. I’m sleeping eight hours a night and wake up well-rested. I bought a stationary bike which I ride in the evening for 30 minutes. Instead of fast food, I’m cooking great meals like chicken tacos, and I’ve developed a love for homemade guacamole. I’ve lost 25 pounds and feel more energetic. I volunteer as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce. We organize fundraisers like golf tournaments. Giving back feels great. I’m happier and more confident.”

Mellisa Stroup, Walmart Store #2043, Warsaw, NY

“My husband Aaron and I have six kids between us — we’re a big blended family. But we weren’t eating well. I was tired all the time, and my doctor said I was beginning to be pre-diabetic. The Thrive Challenge kicked me into gear. One of our favorite dinners is zucchini ‘pasta’ bake. I use zucchini noodles and cook them with turkey and low-carb tomato sauce. My daughters and I are taking our two golden retrievers for walks. It gets us off the couch into the fresh air. We’re doing more activities as a family. We go to a trampoline park — I’ll be jumping and laughing and falling, and the kids think it’s hilarious. I go for facials and beauty treatments, which help me relax. I’m learning to love my body. I’ve lost 65 pounds and my doctor is thrilled with my progress. The Thrive Challenge is like a light switch going on, a burden being lifted off my shoulders.”

Brian Whitesell, Walmart Store #2326, Hornell, NY

“I grew up on a farm. My parents were amazing, but our farm was named ‘Always Broke Farm.’ I never learned how to save. Now, my wife, Ashley, and I have four kids and we were having financial difficulties. Kirsten Ohara and Sherin Thomas at work inspired me to start the Thrive Challenge. We got a loan for $22,000 and used it to pay off bills. And we’re paying off that loan in monthly installments. It feels like a big relief. We’re saving money by not eating out. We’ll cook great meals like lasagna , and the kids help. Every two weeks 200 dollars goes right into our savings account. We’re budgeting and saving. Instead of going out, we stay at home and play games, like Lincoln Logs. I’m more motivated at work and I won the ‘Leader Of The Quarter’ award. When I heard my name I almost cried, I wasn’t expecting it. Things are looking good and every day I try to be the best person I can be.”

Mary Wideman, Distribution Center #2076, Laurens, SC

“At the start of 2021, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy. I’m in remission, but last October I found out I have bladder cancer. The doctors are optimistic, but I’ve been a little depressed. I wanted to lose weight, so I started the Thrive Challenge. I cut out fried food and sweets. My sister does the cooking, she’ll make baked chicken and collard greens with rice and gravy. I’ve lost 20 pounds and I can walk easier. Reading spiritual books gives me courage and helps me stay calm. Every day I pray for other people going through challenges. I love listening to gospel music and I speak to myself in a positive way. I tell myself, ‘I shall live and not die.’ Every breath I take is like a breath of fresh air because I don’t know when my last breath will be. The joy I experience every time I wake up is unimaginable. I say, ‘It’s a beautiful day I haven’t seen before.’”

Talluah Dinwiddie, Walmart Supercenter #1376, Hendersonville, TN

“I was raised in the South, eating crummy food that was heavy in calories. Now I’m 40, and my husband, Christopher, and I have three kids. We were eating pizza and Hamburger Helper. I weighed 256 pounds, I was diabetic and felt miserable. I got started on the Thrive Challenge and the first thing I did was to go to the pantry and get rid of all the junk food, like cookies and chips. I started to plan good meals like chicken or turkey and salad. I’m exercising with my daughter, Addisen, who’s a cheerleader. We do everything from high knees to jumping jacks. And when the littler kids see us having fun, they join in. I’ve lost 50 pounds in the past year and my blood sugar levels have stabilized. My doctor is thrilled with my progress. The plan is that by summer I’ll be completely off all medication — and I know I’m going to get there. My dreams are coming true in ways I never thought were possible.” 

Ray Villa, Walmart Supercenter #2479, San Diego, CA

“A few years ago I was working out and eating well. But then COVID hit, the gyms shut down, and I stopped exercising. I was eating fast food and drinking a lot of coke. My self-esteem went down. A co-worker, Michelle Tisnado, inspired me to start the Thrive Challenge. She was so enthusiastic. I haven’t had soda for over two months, which is a big deal for me. I mostly drink water. I’ll cook chicken with cajun seasoning and have it with veggies. At home, I’m doing sit-ups and push-ups and resistance training. Now that I’m not going out to eat, I’m saving money and I want to buy a car. I’m connecting with my family and friends. My three nephews come over when my sister’s at work. We’ll go outside and pitch a baseball to each other or go to see a movie. We have a great time together. The Thrive Challenge is helping me feel happier and better about myself. I’m putting my health at the forefront once again.”

Donna Smith, Walmart Supercenter #76, Berryville, AR

“My biggest challenge has been dealing with bipolar disorder. I’m on medication, but I was still getting very stressed. I’m 43, and my husband, Shawn, and I have five children, two from his earlier marriage. We’re also guardians to his two nieces and we have three grandsons. I was a stress eater. I was eating a lot of candy, cupcakes, and ice cream and I was downright miserable. My co-worker, Noah, encouraged me to download the Thrive app. Now, I’m enjoying cooking. I make my own meatloaf which is absolutely wonderful. I began hula hooping with a weighted hoop. To start with I felt silly, but now it’s fun, and gives me so much energy. It’s bringing out the kid in me. I have the energy to play with my grandkids. I run around after them in the yard — it’s the best feeling ever and brings me such joy. Shawn and I are communicating better and appreciating each other. He’s my best friend. I feel wonderful — I’m satisfied with my life.”

Santiago Quiceno, Walmart Customer, Bradenton, FL

“My biggest struggle was not having my dad with me when I was growing up. We were in Colombia and he was in America. When I was 13, my mom and I came to America to be with him. But I never learned to set goals. I’m 28 now and live with my wife, Marcela, who works at Walmart. I was just working to pay the bills, I was eating junk food, and I was tired. Sunday Oguntoyinbo inspired me to start the Thrive Challenge. I have a road bike and started cycling. Being on my bike feels amazing. Marcela and I are doing the Challenge together. We’re cooking together — we love making Colombian dishes like empanadas with shredded chicken and potatoes. We never used to budget, but now we know where every dollar goes.We’re saving to buy a house, a place that’s our own, with a back yard. I have purpose and a new energy. I’ve just started an airport transportation company with a friend. I’ve changed my mindset and I’m changing my life.”

Michelle Bender, Walmart Supercenter #123, Seminole, OK

“In 1985, my son, Ryan, died of leukemia. He was two and a half. I was blessed with another child, my son Asher, who is transgender. He’s 36 and I could not be more proud of him. But it’s been hard. I’ve had a lot of challenges in my life and I was feeling depressed. I’m 59 and married to my second husband, Ed. I was eating fast food, I was in a lot of pain, and I weighed 261 pounds. I had weight loss surgery and I downloaded the Thrive app for support. I’m cooking and for dinner I’ll make grilled chicken or baked filets of cod. Moving is easier, and I can walk without being afraid I’ll fall. I have more energy and less depression. I’m not in pain anymore and I’ve come off several medications. Asher and I are so close. I just pray the world will accept people for who they are. I don’t take anything for granted, I love my life, and I have so much gratitude.”

Marissa Clauson, Walmart Supercenter #261, Hot Springs, AR

“I have mental health issues from childhood trauma and at 35, it’s still hard for me to trust people. I’ve suffered from anxiety and last year, I was feeling overwhelmed. I felt distant from my husband, Doug, and our 12-year-old daughter, Teghan. I was stressed and eating a lot of fast food and boxed dinners. I downloaded the Thrive app and right away I cut out soda and sweets. Now, we’re cooking from scratch, meals like pasta with veggies. At work, when I’m stressed I’ll breathe and have two minutes to myself. And on my days off, Teghan I go hiking in the hills with our dog, Bella. We really appreciate our time together in nature. I have a new financial mindset and saved enough money to buy our first house. Last November, we moved in. It’s amazing, every day I think, ‘This is my home. I love it.’ I feel peaceful and blessed to be able to wake up and be with my family.”

Rose Maxwell, Walmart Supercenter #76, Berryville, AR

“My biggest struggle in life has been that I didn’t have any self-confidence. I’m 43, I weighed 269 pounds, and felt so bad. I’d eat a lot of fast food, like Taco Bell and processed food. A co-worker inspired me to download the Thrive app. I cut out fast food and now I make delicious meals like veggie stir fries. My husband, Davel, is actually a chef. He’s from Jamaica and does a lot of great Caribbean cooking. He’ll make chicken and rice with bok choy. I signed up with beachbody. Our two kids saw me working out and they wanted to join in, so now we all exercise together. I’ve lost 17 pounds so far and I feel much better. To help improve my confidence, I do daily affirmations. I say, ‘Rose you are strong, you can do this.’ Gardening is my favorite way to relax. My garden is my happy place, I love tulips and lilies. I’m much happier now and a little more confident. I feel at peace.”

Andrew Reeves, Walmart Supercenter #4597, North Tonawanda, NY

“A few years ago, I gained a lot of weight and I didn’t have the energy to do anything outside of work. I started feeling chest pains, and my doctor told me it was acid reflux. I ended up going on medication but I knew I still needed a lifestyle change. I started being more mindful of my diet, but I hit a plateau, so my Store Manager, Brandi, told me about the Thrive Challenge. I downloaded the Thrive app and really committed to it. I started pausing before eating, and also before making purchases. Soon, I was making better decisions and saving money. Now, I pack my lunch for work and I’m more mindful about my habits. My wife joined me and it’s been great having her support. I find that I have more energy now and my acid reflux is gone. And even though the weight loss has been huge for me, the main change has been being able to pause during the day. It’s really helped me achieve my goals.”

Jennifer Willey, Walmart Supercenter #3253, Edinboro, PA

“As a mom of two now-grown children, I was always busy working and worrying about other things. I was never on my own list of priorities. I had kids at home, a husband, work, housework, and a million excuses for not taking care of myself. Once my son moved out, I realized I was out of excuses. I needed to change for me. The first step was getting off the soda, Monster, and Slim Jims. Now, I love ice-cold water and nuts, especially almonds. I could live off almonds and water! My kids are coming over and we are spending more time together. We’re playing cards and I’m also spending time with my grandpuppies. I’m so grateful for the support from people I have talked to about my journey. To me, the Thrive Challenge means motivation. It’s making me a better person and making me feel better about myself. Even just small changes can help you make a better life.”


  • 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.