Find a Physician
Manage Your Health

Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon
Fort Sanders Health and Fitness Center

Covenant Therapy Centers
Runners Evaluation
Missy Kane
Buddy's Race Against Cancer
A-A+ Home | Print | Email | Add This | Adjust text size

Biggest Winner Weight Loss Challenge

Perry Pruitt Named BIGGEST WINNER for 2014!

Karns firefighter Perry Pruitt, 31, has won the title of Biggest Winner in the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon Team fitness challenge. Pruitt lost more than 80 pounds during a five-month training period.

 2014 Biggest Winner
Perry Pruitt

The Biggest Winner team challenge assembles a group of East Tennesseans who apply for a chance to change their lives through better health and fitness. Once accepted, they are given tools to succeed, but the work of achieving success is up to them. The team members train together at Fort Sanders Health and Fitness Center through the week, and train with the Knoxville Track Club on Saturdays from November through March. They are given a runner/walker evaluation through Covenant Therapy Centers, and coached by Covenant Health fitness expert Missy Kane.

Kane, an olympic runner and former collegiate track and field coach, says the accountability provided by the high-profile program helps provide the motivation each team member needs to go the extra mile. “Since our first meeting in November, Perry has lost more than any team member in Biggest Winner history,” Kane says. “His total cholesterol has gone from 211 to 161, his triglycerides have gone from 263 to 45, and his blood pressure has gone from 138/90 to 114/70.

Pruitt says the improvements don’t stop there, and some are not measured in health screenings and assessments. “I feel better in everything I can do,” he says. “No more heartburn, I don’t snore anymore, I sleep better. I can do what I am supposed to do at work, and not get tired.” Pruitt says one of the reasons he applied for the team was concern about his health on the job. Pruitt says a majority of firefighter deaths are the result of cardiac arrest in the line of duty. He wanted to better his chances of survival.

Kane says the Biggest Winner challenge is more than a weight loss competition. It takes into account the health and fitness achievements of participants, and their efforts to “pay it forward,” becoming ambassadors for health and fitness in their communities. On his own, Pruitt decided to have friends sponsor him in the half marathon by the mile, in an effort to raise money

 Perry Pruitt

for the Knoxville Area Coalition on Childhood Obesity.

(See more of the latest team photos by clicking here.) 

This year’s team has lost a combined total of more than 300 pounds during training for events in the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon. Each has seen improvements in overall health and fitness. Former winners help mentor the team, along with Joe Mitchell and Dolynn Loy, both of whom were once morbidly obese. Mitchell was a contestant on NBC’s “The Biggest Winner” in season 12. He serves as an assistant coach, along with News Sentinel sports editor Phil Kaplan. Rounding out the coaching staff are Jennifer Meckles, WBIR-TV, and Josh Ward, WNML-Sports Animal Radio.

Other team members are Pat Godfrey, 50, Townsend. Teresa Walker, 51, of Powell. Joy Gornto, 42, Knoxville; Mark Jones, 43, Knoxville; Debi Haney, 42, Knoxville; Jack Harvey, 31, Kingston; Susan Merrell, 52, Knoxville; Evangeline Smith, 39, Knoxville; and Cynthia Tipton, 45, Knoxville.

The Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon features a full marathon, half marathon, team relays, and 5K, with a one-mile Covenant Kids Run the prior evening. All races finish on the fifty yard line. For information about the marathon, visit

Check out the change!

Click here to see the final results: 2014 biggest winner assessment results.xls

About the Covenant Health Biggest Winner Challenge

Covenant Health fitness expert Missy Kane leads a team of coaches and fitness experts to train the 2014 team in the race to personal victory.
The Biggest Winner Challenge is a friendly competiton to see who can make the greatest strides in overall health and fitness by the day of the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon. The team undergoes an intense weight management program through Fort Sanders Health and Fitness Center, and race training with Covenant Health fitness expert Missy Kane and the Knoxville Track Club.They aren't super human athletes. This team is made up of people who come from all walks of life, have a variety of fitness levels, and possess a desire to make a change. 

The Biggest Winner Challenge was created in 2005, as Covenant Health sought a means to further carry out its not-for-profit mission of improving the quality of life in East Tennesse through better health. With unrelenting obesity rates, and all the problems associated with poor diet and exercise habits, Coach Kane came up with the idea of selecting a team of "real" people to be ambassadors for health and fitness - people East Tennesseans could relate to - people who were leading the way by changing their own lives. Since then, our previous teams have lost a combined total of about 600 pounds, seen some dramatic results in health measures, and have helped improved the health of their communities, as well.

2014 Covenant Health Biggest Winner Team

Jack Harvey, Kingston
Joy Gornto, Knoxville
Perry Pruitt, Karns
Mark Jones, Knoxville
Debi Haney, Knoxville
Teresa Walker, Powell
Evangeline "Red" Smith, Knoxville
Cynthia Tipton, Knoxville
Susan Merrell, Knoxville
Pat Godfrey, Knoxville

Media Representatives

Jennifer Meckles, WBIR
Josh Ward, WNML Sports Animal
Phil Kaplan, News Sentinel

Coaching Staff

Missy Kane - Head Coach
Phil Kaplan - Assistant Coach
Joe Mitchell - Assistant Coach
Chris O'Hearn - Strength/Life Coach
Karen Lacey - Team Dietitian

Special Advisors

Dolynn Loy
B.J. Telfer
Bryan Paschal
Kelsey Godfrey
Randy Carr

Check the left side of this page for fitness tips and to learn more about the Covenant Health Biggest Winner program.

© 2014 Covenant Health
100 Fort Sanders West Blvd.
Knoxville, TN 37922
(865) 374-1000