Raising a family can be a full-time job. Add home-schooling six kids to the mix and a husband on active military duty, and the challenges of raising a family multiply exponentially. This is Tracy and Wallace Reed’s life in a nutshell.

The Reed Family

Enjoying fitness as a family.

The military family of eight from Biloxi, Miss., recently took on a new challenge—to embrace a healthier, more active lifestyle. In October 2013, the Reeds signed up for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America’s (BGCA) 4th Annual Triple Play Fit Family Challenge, a challenge they ultimately won. 

The Triple Challenge

With support from The Coca-Cola Company and WellPoint Foundation, the BGCA launched Triple Play in 2005. The program targets three core areas: the mind, body and soul by encouraging young people and families to make better food choices, increase physical activity and spend more quality family time.

After competing in a multi-week challenge at home, the Reed family, which includes parents Tracy and Wallace and their six children ranging in age from seven months to 16 years, earned their way to the finale in Venice Beach, Calif.

According to the BGCA, five family finalists were selected based on their involvement and efforts to truly make healthy lifestyle changes during the first two phases of the challenge. These families were then coached by two well-known health advocates, former Olympic champion Jackie Joyner-Kersee as the “body” coach, and Dr. Val Jones, CEO of Better Health LLC as the “mind” coach.

After successfully navigating their way through a tricky obstacle course, competing in a nutrition-based game show and performing a family fitness routine, the Reeds emerged victorious.

“We work better under pressure,” Tracy says.  

Meeting Goals and Exceeding Expectations

For the Reeds, the "mind" was the most difficult area to tackle. Tracy says although they weren’t necessarily unhealthy, she recognized there was room for nutritional improvement. The first and hardest step was getting the older kids on board. From there, the rest of the family fell in line.

Eating healthier food

Eating healthier was the Reed family's biggest challenge

“It’s like monkey see, monkey do," says Tracy. "Kids are going to model what they see.”

And so they did. Soon her kids were reaching for pre-cut fruit in the fridge and quickly forgetting about the less-nutritional food they used to eat at snack time.  

In addition to becoming more food conscious, the Reeds also a worked to advocate the two remaining initiatives: the mind and body. The 8-pack hosted a 5K race in their community to raise funds for the Philippines Typhoon disaster relief while also spreading the word about the importance of family fitness—with an emphasis on family.

Tracy says they could only grow as a family if they worked together every step of the way. So they made an activity calendar to include everyone. “It gave us unity," she said. "It was part of my living room décor for two months and I loved it.”

Fit family calendar

The Reed family's activity calendar

With Wallace recently deployed to Quatar, the Reeds are still working to implement lasting healthy lifestyle choices together. Tracy and the kids talk to Wallace a few times a week.

“We all try to cram on the iPad so he can see all of our faces at once time. That’s a challenge all in itself,” she says playfully. Now playing the role of both parents, Tracy says it’s a waiting game. Wallace is set to return in May. Until then, Tracy is taking one day at a time. "Every day is one day closer to him coming home,” he said.

The Gatekeepers to a Healthier Life

Winning the Fit Family Challenge also means fulfilling a new role as Triple Play Family Ambassadors for the year. The Reed family will represent BGCA and partners, The Coca-Cola Company and WellPoint Foundation, by working to “inspire, motivate and connect with other families on the importance of youth and family health.”

The prizes don’t stop there. The Reeds will also receive an active, healthy all-expense-paid family vacation to the U.S Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. All finalists won tickets to Disneyland courtesy of WellPoint Inc.  

Wallace Reed jump roping

Wallace Reed shows off his jump rope skills.

Tracy says she's excited about these trips for more than one reason. “One, of course, is because we worked hard to get this vacation and Colorado training, but two… going on a vacation means my husband will be back from deployment.”

For the Reed family, they won more than tangible prizes; they gained shared memories to last a lifetime.

“We are the gatekeepers to our home," she concludes. "Be brave and go one step at a time. You’re the parent, so you can make changes, especially when they are good for your kids.”

Read the Reed family’s post on the Fit Family Challenge Blog here.