Melanie Lewis

Edmonton, Alberta

Do it Yourself Program Participant and 2017 Grand Prize Winner

Melanie Lewis had kept her smoking addiction a secret from her parents for 15 years. So when the Edmonton woman was told she had won the grand prize (a Honda Civic LX Coupe courtesy of Wheaton Honda, Edmonton) in the Run to Quit challenge, her glee was quickly followed by anxiety at the thought of admitting to her parents that she smoked. Originally from Oakville, Ontario, Melanie started smoking when she worked away from home her first summer after high school.

With deep emotion, Melanie recalls her decision to quit. “It was a few winters ago when I was living in a forest while working up north. I had reached my peak weight of over 300 lbs and was very unhappy with myself. I decided I had to make changes in my life, so I looked online for ways to quit smoking and saw the Run to Quit program. It gave me the idea to start walking and running, but I continued to smoke. When I returned to Edmonton a year later, I got serious about quitting and joined the Run to Quit program and it worked!”.

Run to Quit is a unique program that pairs the quit-smoking expertise of the Canadian Cancer Society with Running Room Canada’s learn-to-walk-or-run 5 km clinics. The step-by-step program helps smokers cope with discomfort and cravings through its simple and encouraging approach to cutting down while they become more physically active. Participants can join a coach-led, in-store or online 10-week training program, or they can use the do-it-yourself option. All formats give smokers entry into the quit and win contest associated with Run to Quit. New this year are Quit Buddy prizes and incentives for friends to do the in-store training together. The program will be in more than 100 Running Room locations across Canada next year with many chances to win prizes up to Fall 2018.

Because of its dual impact on decreasing tobacco use and increasing physical activity, Run to Quit is being closely studied by University of British Columbia researchers for its potential as a chronic disease prevention program. The Run to Quit program, funded in part by the Public Health Agency of Canada, is entering its final and largest year.

Since embracing her new lifestyle, Melanie has lost over 100 pounds and continues to enjoy running and other physical activities like hockey and swimming. “I still have a way to go, but I believe what John Stanton says: ‘True success is never knowing whether you are working or playing’. I’m having fun and able to play more now.”