steffanie rivers

Stteffanie Rivers

*Most people have a bucket list. You know; a list of goals they want to accomplish before they kick the bucket. A majority of Americans are challenged by obesity and all the health issues that come with it. That’s why, for millions of people, their bucket lists include a vow to achieve at least one elusive physical feat: Swim across a body of water, run a marathon or compete in a Tour de France’ type bike race.

Glenn Keller had those same objectives, but instead of getting closer to his goals, Keller said he was moving farther from them. And his truck driver job kept him from sticking to any fitness goals he set. That is until he read about CNN’s 2012 Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. For the past two years, CNN and its chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, have trained everyday people to compete in a triathlon. And with hours to go before the deadline, Keller pulled his big rig into the nearest Wal-Mart parking lot where he purchased his last bucket of chicken and a webcam to record his last minute video entry (http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-719842). More than one hundred people submitted videos. Keller was one of the seven chosen. Gupta called to deliver the news to each of the seven. Gupta, who had been considered for the U.S. Surgeon General’s position, is an Emmy award winning medical journalist.

Gupta and other health experts say seventy-five percent of Americans are so overweight their extra pounds have caused chronic health issues such as diabetes and heart disease. It’s the primary reason the cost of healthcare is out of control. African-American men face a number of health challenges. For Keller his obesity has caused him to suffer from sleep apnea, a condition whereby a person stops breathing in his sleep because of restricted airwaves. As the world turns its attention the Super Bowl, one of the NFL greats, Reggie White, died from complications due to sleep apnea. And because Keller realizes the seriousness of his condition he wears a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mask when he sleeps.

Since December Keller and his teammates have been working to cross “triathlon” off their bucket lists. Each trainee has free access to a dietician, trainers, a fitness gym membership a new bicycle and other necessities. Now Keller makes CNN iReporter updates about this progress. He hopes to lose 100 pounds before the September triathlon, and he is encouraging others to reach their own fitness goals. Those who can’t travel to compete in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon in September should train for local events.  Keller hosts a national prayer line three times a day from the seat of his big rig where he promotes spiritual and physical fitness. He also plans to share simple dietary and fitness tips he will receive throughout his training. You can follow his progress on Twitter @trihardGlenn, on his Facebook Page/ Making A Difference Ministries or on the health and fitness section of CNN.com where his weekly iReports are posted.

Steffanie Rivers is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. For comments, questions and speaking requests email her at teamtcb.tcb@gmail.com