Waldo County General Hospital recently finished its 26-week weight-loss challenge, “Waldo Weighs-In.” The winner, Roz Grotton, lost almost 30 percent of her original body weight. In the process, she was able to stop taking the medication she had been on for 14 years to lower her triglycerides.

The group as a whole — 103 people started the competition — lost an amazing 1,113.73 pounds, even with some participants dropping out.

But the most interesting story of the competition may be the effect it had on family members of some of those involved in the competition.

Hospital employees Sione Taungatua and Mert Sprague together lost 165 pounds and finished second in the competition, losing more than 27 percent of their combined weight.

And while Taungatua is thrilled with his monetary prize, he is also pleased that his friend was able to lose so much weight and that his daughter, Mavis, who will be an eighth grader next year, is approaching her own weight loss of nearly 50 pounds.

Mavis started running last year with her grandmother and then adopted a diet of no breads or pasta (except on her free day of Sunday) to support her father. Mavis and Sione have been mostly eating chicken, tuna fish, fruits and veggies for the past 26 weeks. And they had a self-imposed rule of no eating after 7 p.m.

Mavis’s first race was to raise money for Camp Kiev and she finished fourth in her age-group. She was tired afterwards but also felt she had accomplished something. She was also pleased with her reward, which was to get her hair cut and dyed.

Soon after, she started running when she was angry or stressed and realized it made her feel better, especially when she listened to music and didn’t push too hard.

Sione got involved when Mavis asked him to do a 5K with her for her birthday. He really didn’t want to do it but it was his daughter’s birthday request so he did. Afterwards, he says, “I felt good about doing it and being able to finish,” and he adds, “We weren’t last.” It was March and their time was 46 minutes.

Sione and Mavis are now running 5Ks almost every weekend and his time is down to 28 minutes and hers is 35. The two now run two or three times a week. Sione’s goal is to do a 5K in less than 25 minutes by the end of summer.

Mavis says she has been promised a Droid phone if she can get her time down to 30 minutes or less. And she’s excited about the possibility. “In the beginning, I didn’t want to do it but I’ve lost weight and it helps with my sports [including softball, soccer and basketball].”

Sione makes no bones about the fact that he joined the competition for the money (a vacation in New York in July) but after a while he decided he wanted to get healthy, too.

“I feel great and I’m pleased with what’s happened,” he said. “I weigh less than I did in high school.”

Sione also quit smoking about four months into the competition. Part of his incentive was to beat his mother-in-law in a race.

Sione is now down to 219 pounds and his goal is to get to 200 pounds and then to maintain his weight between 200 and 210 pounds. Mavis continues to lose weight and recently was rewarded with a two-piece bathing suit. She says she will continue to lose weight so she can take her father up on a promised reward of a trip to the Don Shula Steak House in Miami next year.

So how did Sione lose 100 pounds during the 26 weeks? At first, his rule was no breads or pasta but as time went by, he started limiting himself to chicken, tuna fish, fruits and veggies. If his family was having barbecued chicken, he would wash the barbecue sauce off his. Taco salads were made with ground turkey; his without the taco seasonings because of the sodium content. When his family was having nachos and strawberry shortcake at a birthday celebration, he would talk about how good his salad was.

Among his favorites were Southwest-style corn, “which tastes like you’re cheating,” he said; canned tuna or chicken in his salads; and egg beaters with onion, mushroom or peppers.

Sione says his weight loss was helped tremendously by the fact that he’s not a couch potato and likes to get out and do things. He enjoys going for walks with Mavis and his two younger children, ages 4 and 6, on nature trails, swimming, or even playing soccer. And it’s important to him to be a role model for his children, who he wants to be healthy and active, instead of playing with wireless electronic devices inside.

In the case of another Waldo County General Hospital employee, Lynne Depasquale, it was her 16-year-old daughter, Courtney, who was pushing her mother to do more exercising.

“When she wanted to stop, I’d tell her she needed to push a little farther. And when she’d get to her breaking point, I’d tell her to do a little more,” said Courtney. “I’d say, ‘Five more and then five more after that and tell her she could do it. She needed someone to push her.”

Apparently it worked. Lynne and her partner finished fourth in the competition. Lynne lost 43 pounds after the competition started and has lost 54 since she started on her weight-loss journey at the first of the year.

Courtney, her coach, who Lynne says pushes harder than Jillian on “The Biggest Loser” TV show, has lost 10 pounds herself.

Lynne has been hula-hooping, walking and running. She and Courtney have a 2-mile walk that they do together from their home. They also both took part in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, known locally as “Bon Bon Bra-gade,” as members of Team Waldo.

Lynne says she will be joining Waldo Weighs-In Second Chances, which began July 21, to keep going on her weight-loss journey, with a goal of losing 100 pounds. And now that a non-hospital employee can be a partner, she and Courtney will be partners during the 20-week competition.

“I’ve been thinking about losing weight for years and years and every January I say to myself that I’m going to do it. This year, I said, ‘This is the year.’,” recalled Lynne. “I didn’t want to get to June and have to say that I wasted the six months. It’s been nice to have Courtney to talk to about it and I think it helped us both. I have more self-confidence now and can do more.”

“She just needed someone to push her,” adds Courtney. “She was unmotivated to go to the gym a lot.”