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Big loser, biggest winner

LAKE WYLIE -- When K.C. Meade sipped on a celebratory bottle of beer early Saturday morning, nobody thought twice about it. He earned it.

Meade, the early morning favorite and eventual champion of one of the more unique competitions going, proved to be the biggest loser among five friends. Then, he took all of their money and gave it to a good cause.

Lake Wylie Lions Club members Meade, Jim Olson, Rocky Miller, Bill Markolf and Vince Mugavero began their charity weight loss competition three months ago. Mugavero and Markolf were just finishing a four-month bet to see who could lose the most weight, and Lions at the weekly Saturday morning meeting at Local Motion Bar & Grill decided to turn the idea into an event.

All five participants ponied up $500, with half of the $2,500 collected going to the winner and the other half going to River Hills/Lake Wylie EMS. Weigh-in was set for Saturday, with the total percentage of weight loss determining the winner.

"There's a penalty clause," said Harry Goff, "official" judge of the event. "It's double if you gain weight."

In typical fashion for the Lion friends, half of the entertainment from the three-month competition came in the moments leading up to the weigh-in Saturday at Local Motion.

"You may see some guys in their boxer shorts," warned Bruce Gislason, secretary treasurer. "You just never know."

Other Lions posed the possibility of "questionable means" of weight loss. Some non-participants enjoyed pancakes and sausage while contestants sipped coffee or smoked.

"I've got to wait until after the weigh-in," said Markolf when asked by Local Motion owner Tom Snyder if he wanted breakfast.

Then there was talk of the next competition, whether perhaps it should be to stop drinking or stop smoking. And, of course, there was debate on the rules. Particularly the one about having to pay twice the bet if no weight came off the scale.

"I'm the one who made the rule," Goff insisted.

The dozen men around the bar were not taking the specifics of the event too seriously, though.

"Our rules are like NASCAR," Gislason said. "We change them weekly."

As the contestants poured in, everyone seemed to agree it would come down to the two favorites--Mugavero and Meade.

"If K.C. doesn't win, he'll go down as the biggest liar," Gislason said. "K.C. hasn't been here since the weigh-in. We've just got messages."

Then there was Mugavero, a proven winner from his previous bout with Markolf.

"He's a weight loss specialist," Gislason said.

Mugavero also had the advantage of bringing the "official" scale for the event. But as Meade walked in, even Mugavero started to show the nerves.

"I've got to strip down now," Mugavero said.

Miller and Markolf put up respectable numbers, with Miller dropping 6.5 pounds and Markolf gaining two under protest (he lost two pounds according to his personal scale that same morning, he said). Olson surprised by dropping 24.5 pounds for a 9 percent loss.

Mugavero, fully clothed, then stepped to the scales for a 28-pound weight loss, totaling 10 percent. Only Meade remained, but the eventual champ easily cleared the field with a whopping 51.5-pound loss for 19 percent.

The only thing more impressive than Meade's total, the Lions agreed, was what he did next. Meade wrote a check for the entire $2,500 competition total to the emergency squad.

"I wanted to win it to send it to them," Meade said. "That's a good group of people. We've had a couple of friends and if it weren't for them, they wouldn't be alive."

Roger Klaesius, treasurer for the emergency squad, said the gesture will be appreciated by the service that offers emergency transport throughout the Lake Wylie community at no cost to patients.

"It's fantastic," he said. "We really need the support because, if nothing else, fuel. Our fuel bills are probably $2,000 or $3,000 this year."

The irony of the event was not lost on the competitors, that the same event benefiting the emergency squad might well help keep the contestants from needing it.

"We lost the weight," said Olson. "We're all winners."

So how did Meade do it? The former high school athlete who often lost weight between football and wrestling seasons, Meade used a marine-style workout and cut out dietary frills--like the celebratory beer--during the three-month span.

"It's a six-week regimen that's a two-hour exercise program from seven to nine in the morning," he said. "I've done it every day since we started this thing."

In total, the five participants weighed in at 1,328 pounds three months ago and checked out Saturday at 1.219.5 pounds, or 108 fewer pounds than their former selves. Add in the money raised for a worthy cause, and the Lions needed little cause for raising a toast in celebration.