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Cross-country biker shares 'Loser' story

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Joe Ostaszewski pumps up students at Watertown Elementary Wednesday during a stop on his cross-country bike ride promoting health and fitness. DALLUS WHITFIELD / The Wilson Post

WATERTOWN -- What is the most important thing in your life to have?

That is the question that Joe “Joe-O” Ostaszewski asked Watertown Elementary fourth and fifth graders during a rally emceed by UT Extension Agent Johnny Barnes on Wednesday.

“It is your health,” he responded.

Joe-O, a former Florida State University defensive lineman, was featured as a finalist on the television show “The Biggest Loser” where he lost 150 pounds of his 370-pound weight. Following his success on the show, Joe-O partnered with the National 4-H Council to engage young people in living healthy through his “Riding it Forward” campaign.

The campaign is a 2,900-mile bike ride across the country to inspire others to get healthy and talk about the dangers of childhood obesity.

Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto spoke briefly to students during the rally and said that Tennessee is the fourth highest state in the nation when it comes to childhood obesity and that they could make good choices when it comes to their diet – especially in the school cafeteria. “They have healthy things for you there,” he said.

Joe-O focused on encouraging the kids to be healthy after they leave school by staying active and asking their parents for healthy foods at home.

Riding it Forward launched on July 31 at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Md., and will conclude on Sept. 26 at the Biggest Loser Ranch in Calabasas, Calif. In total, he will have made 42 stops in nine states.

After each stop he invites children to take a pledge of getting healthy and sign his tour bus.

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at

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