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Columbia Missourian

Stephens College challenge: Lose weight, collect $1M

By The Associated Press
August 20, 2010 | 11:21 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — An anonymous donor has promised to give $1 million to a Missouri women's college if school employees collectively shed at least 250 pounds by the end of the year.

An unidentified Stephens College graduate living in Oregon brokered the weight-loss deal with school president Dianne Lynch, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported. The donor will kick in an extra $100,000 if Lynch herself loses 25 pounds.

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Lynch unveiled what she has dubbed the "Losers Club" challenge at a Thursday meeting with employees. She told workers she came up with the weight-loss fundraising plan after the graduate lamented the country's overall lack of health.

"This is a good thing," she said. "If we do this, we're $500,000 ahead of our budget goals."

The donor, who weighs 117 pounds, told Lynch she could "lose a little weight." Lynch agreed and suggested a $100,000 donation in exchange for meeting the graduate's challenge.

The school president returned to campus and realized she should have asked for a larger gift. The donor agreed to a school-wide weight-loss campaign, which starts Sept. 1.

Lynch said she plans to encourage employees to take walks on their breaks and will add fruit to the candy basket in her office. The employee weigh-ins will be private.

Students won't participate in the weight-loss challenge, but some Stephens employees said the program will help them lead by example.

"If faculty and staff do participate, it will encourage students to also take on a healthy lifestyle, and maybe motivate students to change unhealthy habits," said Amanda Roberts, director of career development.

Stephens is a 177-year-old women's college best known for its theater, dance, fashion design and performing arts programs. It enrolls fewer than 1,000 undergraduates.

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Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, http://www.columbiatribune.com