Kansas City Mayor Sly James and Chamber of Commerce chief Jim Heeter spent five months last year trying to shed pounds and get fit.
They had some success, and this year they're redoubling their efforts. But they're also enlisting other business leaders to join them, to set an example in a metro area where obesity, diabetes and other chronic illnesses are nearly epidemic.
"We've got to change the stigma of Kansas City being unhealthy," said Katie Erwin of the Chamber of Commerce, which is sponsoring the "Not So Big KC Challenge," along with Blue KC.
About 25 business and government leaders, including City Manager Troy Schulte, Johnson County Commissioner Ed Eilert, engineers Greg Graves and Ron Coker, architect Bob Berkebile and Full Employment Council honcho Clyde McQueen have signed up. The competition runs six months, through the end of July.
James said he enjoyed the "friendly" competition with Heeter last year, to see who could lose the most weight, body mass and body fat. But he said he gained some of that weight back over the holidays and now needs to get back in the fitness groove.
Heeter recently had hip replacement surgery and was leaning on a cane but said he's on the mend and is also anxious to get moving again.
The ultimate goal, sponsors said, is for the business leaders to get their employees involved in an effort that they hope becomes its own fitness epidemic.