Guthrie teenager wins Tovander Award
Mason Harvey, 13, lost 85 pounds through diet and exercise and founded Strivefor85 to inspire others
The Williams Route 66 Marathon board of directors, along with the Tovander family, have announced Mason Harvey as the 2012 Kjell Tovander Award recipient. Harvey will be honored Saturday evening, Nov. 17, during the race’s annual V.I.P. party at the Zarrow Center in downtown Tulsa.
The award recognizes an individual who impacts the world in an uplifting way and is named in honor of Kjell Tovander who died while trying to complete the Williams Route 66 Half Marathon on Nov. 16, 2008. Tovander, only 21 at the time of his death, spent three years studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was preparing for a career in the Navy. Harvey is the first teenager to win the award.
“Kjell inspired so many people because of the person he was and the way he worked so hard to accomplish the goals he set for himself,” said Margaux Tovander, Tovander’s mother. “To know that Mason is receiving the award this year brings such joy to our family because he reminds us of Kjell’s spirit and determination. Once again, we are honored that the Williams Route 66 Marathon continues to recognize deserving people like Mason each year in memory of Kjell.”
Harvey, age 13 and in the eighth grade, weighed 206 pounds at his heaviest. He decided after years of bullying, always being out of breath, and struggling on the football field to the point of needing a prescription inhaler, that he had to make a major change in his life. In addition to trading video games for sports, eating more fruits and vegetables, cutting back on junk food and soda, Harvey also started going to the gym for weight training and to learn to use the exercise equipment. According to Harvey, losing the weight and getting active has changed his life in many ways.
“I feel so much better and I know I’m healthier,” said Harvey. “I am more confident, outgoing and energetic and it feels awesome to be able to help other kids that are going through what I did.”
Harvey’s inspiring story of losing 85 pounds through hard work and steadfast determination caught the attention of Michelle Obama whom Harvey met at the White House last April for the annual egg hunt. The First Lady identified Harvey by name and the two childhood obesity activists talked about what Harvey has accomplished and how he is inspiring so many others to make healthier choices.
After losing 85 pounds, Harvey decided that 85 was his “magic number” and used it to start Strivefor85 to inspire those around him to live healthier lives. Using social media and a website called www.Strivefor85.com, Harvey offers inspirational stories and photos about himself and his family, as well as upcoming events and information for children and adults who are interested in getting healthy. He creates various lists of 85 things to do, see or accomplish as a way of getting people energized about what they can do in their own lives to get off the couch, have fun and feel better.
“I’m showing everyone that childhood obesity can be defeated,” said Harvey. Harvey’s motto and the foundation of Strivefor85 is “Small steps + Smart choices = BIG changes”.
When asked what he would say to kids who think the challenge to lose weight and get healthy by making the choice to eat right and exercise seems too difficult, Harvey said, “The weight wasn’t put on overnight and it won’t come off overnight. Strive to do your best at trying something new and have fun. If I could do it, you can do it.”
Looking to the future, Harvey said his journey to a healthier life as a teenager will help him when he becomes a parent.
“This experience will help me to continue to gain knowledge about how to be healthy and fit. I can pass that along to my kids someday so they don’t have to grow up and struggle with weight issues like I did.” Mason also said, “I have learned that when you set your mind to something and stick to your goals, you can achieve anything.”
“Mason is an outstanding example of how to overcome obstacles and is wise beyond his calendar years,” said Jeffery Kidder, managing director of Hers Brands, LLC, and the person who nominated Harvey for the award. “I believe he and Kjell would have formed a long lasting friendship had they been able to meet.”
Harvey and his brothers will participate in the 2012 Williams Route 66 5k on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 8 a.m. It will be number 83 on his Strivefor85 list of events to participate in this year.
To read more about Mason’s inspirational story and Strivefor85, please visit: http://www.facebook.com/StriveFor85.