Fitness is something talked about often in churches around the Nevada-Utah Conference (NUC) and in the conference office. However, it is easier to talk about it than to work toward it. Brissa Castillo, human resources director for the NUC, decided to see if she could find a way to motivate employees and their families throughout the NUC territory to take their fitness more seriously. Thus, the Nevada-Utah Mile-a-Thon was created.
Even though NUC membership is relatively small in the Pacific Union, the geographical area is huge, encompassing over 220,000 square miles. To travel from the conference office to each of the areas that have one or more of the 63 congregations and eight schools would entail a trip of about 3,085 miles. Castillo’s idea was to create a map of the conference, marking each area and the distance from one to the next, with the ultimate goal of virtually traveling the entire conference in one month’s time.
Thirty-six energetic souls accepted the challenge and began the virtual race. Mileage points were given for steps taken, active minutes doing gardening or workouts, and daily devotions. Each week the milestones were posted, enticing some to put in a little more effort during the next week. Participants watched their point totals leapfrog over one another until the very end. The results surpassed the goal, with a total of about 5,559 miles!
Besides helping the participants meet their required exercise points for the employee health insurance plan, other benefits were realized. After covering 508 miles, second-place winner Delberth Castillo, NUC’s Adventist Community Service director, said, “This challenge not only encouraged me to be physically active but also to spend time with God. It was a joy to be able to have friendly competition with other employees across the conference. I looked forward to seeing who was leading so I could work toward getting ahead of them!”
There were some surprises too. Denice Raphael, head teacher for Vegas Valley Academy, and first-place winner with 535 miles, revealed her recent conversion to healthful living and the fact that she is a fitness trainer. She said, “Working out helps improve my physical health, assists with coping with stresses of life, and just helps me be in a better mood.”
Many NUC employees and family members have expressed the desire to have the event repeated. Riverview Christian Academy head teacher Glenn Bentjen, third-place winner with 414 miles, shared the sentiment of many when he stated, “We love to keep moving in the Nevada-Utah Conference.”
Brissa Castillo’s hope is that this article will inspire others to adopt a similar challenge in their workplace and share new ideas with her.
By Michelle Ward