Vinita Harms has lost more than 140 pounds in the last 10 years.

Vinita Harms has lost more than 140 pounds in the last 10 years.

Scott Davis lost 55 pounds and lowered his blood pressure. Angela Patton quit smoking, began competing in races and feels better than she has in years.

These stories are just some of many individuals within the state who are participating in Walk Kansas this year.

The Walk Kansas fitness challenge is an annual state-wide effort to encourage exercise and healthy eating. Teams of six chose from one of three goals, which must be completed between its start, which was Sunday, and its conclusion May 11.

Challenge one meets basic physical activity guidelines of two hours of moderate to vigorous activity per person each week. If met, the team would collectively walk 423 miles, the distance across Kansas.

Challenge two ups the ante to five hours of physical activity per person per week, which would equal 846 miles, the distance across the state and back.

Challenge three, new this year, requires six hours of physical activity per person per week, which is equal to 1,200 miles, the distance around the perimeter of Kansas.

Participants also are encouraged to eat fruit and vegetables daily.

About 30 local teams are reporting to the McPherson County Extension office.

Two of those teams stem from Aero Transportation Products of McPherson, and include Harms, Davis and Patton. They chose challenge two.

"It just looked like a good way for us to team up at work and get more people involved," team captain Patton said, who noted this was the first time the business had participated. "Walk Kansas is just an excellent opportunity to encourage people to get involved and improve their lifestyles."

Patton, of McPherson, knows all about a healthy lifestyle. About five years ago, she quit a two-pack-a-day smoking habit she had for 25 years. She also inspired her mother, father, brother and his wife to follow suit.

"Once I stopped poisoning myself, I found the energy to enjoy competing," she said. "I had energy that wasn't there before. I had to do something (to keep weight off after smoking), and it's developed into a love of running."

She began exercising, and has now participated in 13 races, including 5K runs and mud obstacles. She also is preparing for a 10-mile run in April.

"It's been fantastic," she said. "It has benefited me in so many ways I can't begin to list them."

Davis, also of McPherson, has lost more than 50 pounds in the last year. He begun the journey due to bad health and reached his goal of eliminating the need for blood pressure medication.

"It's better, everything's real good," he said. "I have a lot more energy to do a lot more stuff."

He has done this through walking, biking and video aerobics. His favorite form of exercise is jogging.

"You put in your headphones and the next thing you know, you're done," he said. "If you don't, you can hear yourself breathe and you can talk yourself into being tired, but if you've got headphones in, it's not a big deal."

Davis' wife also is on his team, and they walk together. Teamwork is motivating, he said.

"It's pretty cool because you can motivate others to stay on track and likewise with yourself," he said.

Harms of Marquette had been overweight her whole life, and, at one point, tipped more than 300 pounds. Since then she has lost more than 140 pounds in less than 10 years.

"It's been a very slow process for me," she said. "It's been the hardest thing I've ever done."

A major motivator for her was her father, who was overweight and died due to a heart attack.

Her success has some from Weight Watchers and exercising to workout video motivators like Jillian Michaels. Walk Kansas is just a part of her journey.

"I love walking. It's a fantastic form of exercise," she said. "Anything I can do to help others on my team."

To learn more about Walk Kansas, visit

Contact Jenae Pauls at and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel