SPOTLIGHT: Mayors duel in weight-loss challenge

By By KIMBERLY POHL

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (AP) — A sly grin plastered across his face, Carol Stream Village President Frank Saverino stuck out his right leg, applied his foot to the scale and watched as his opponent's number surged north of 315 pounds.

But the good-natured trick would only temporarily confuse his victim, Hanover Park Mayor Rodney Craig, who came into Tuesday morning's (Nov. 27) final weigh-in confident he'd emerge victorious in the pair's eight-week weight loss challenge.

In the end, Craig lost a bigger percentage of body weight, dropping 20 pounds to Saverino's nine pounds. The Hanover Park and Carol Stream officials now weigh in at 284.5 pounds and 237 pounds, respectively.

"I haven't done anything like this in a long time," Craig, 64, said. "I've got more energy and I'm feeling really good right now."

The competition, which both mayors agree was a rousing success and just the start of their journey toward better health, was prompted by the recent loss of two respected colleagues.

In April, West Chicago Mayor Mike Kwasman died at 65 after a heart attack. The trio was close, having climbed similar political ladders. They each served on fire boards before being elected either village trustee or city alderman and then mayor in 2007.

Then in August, longtime Lombard Village President William "Bill" Mueller died at 76 due to cancer and complications from the West Nile virus. Craig and Saverino, 68, had hung out with their friend not long before his death, bringing their classic cars to Lombard's Cruise Night.

"After we lost our good friend, Bill, I said from one big guy to another, we need to get really serious about this," Craig said.

Craig set up a program through his doctor and downloaded an iPhone app to better track what he ate. Saverino began using the dormant exercise equipment at home and swapped out late-night salami sandwiches for almonds.

"I quickly found out how out of shape I was," Saverino said. "But now, even if I get home at 9 p.m., I'll go work out."

They also got village employees involved, with each staff setting up its own wellness challenges. Saverino said Carol Stream participants lost more than 100 pounds in a single week.

Since he came up short, Saverino has to take out Craig and their wives (Sherry Craig, Hanover Park's former longtime clerk, now works part-time at the village of Carol Stream) to a nice lunch.

Saverino admits that between Thanksgiving and his 50th wedding anniversary this past week, he was nervous about the weigh-in. But he's happy with the results he's seeing, and hopes he and Craig will recommit themselves — after the holidays.

"It would have been embarrassing to do this publicly and not lose anything," Saverino said. "It was good motivation."

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