Mason Carter Harvey just wasn’t comfortable in his own skin. So he did something about it.
Mason, 12, weighed 206 pounds when he decided more than a year ago to weigh less. He dropped 85 pounds, and is now hard at work to keep it off.
“I felt unhealthy,” Mason said. “There were also a few bullies that I had that made me feel bad about myself. So it made me get up off the couch and start eating better. I put away the chips and candy and all the junk food and the pop.”
Now Mason’s mission is to meet others, tell his story and hopefully inspire other children to do the same.
Inspired by the 85-pound weight loss, he’s doing it in 85’s.
Mason wants to meet 85 important people who can help spread his message, help his father lose 85 pounds (30 pounds as of early March), work out in 85 gyms and attend or host 85 events to help fight childhood obesity. He’s making progress on all the lists — especially the important people list.
The seventh-grader from Guthrie landed a big one recently — first lady Michelle Obama.
“You are an amazing young man,” Obama wrote in Mason’s signature book. “Everyone in our nation needs to do our share to help children grow up healthy and strong. Keep up the great work!”
The first lady, who has been involved in her own effort to fight childhood obesity, had heard Mason’s story of losing 85 pounds in the past year and starting his “Strive for 85” mission to get others to lose weight. She invited him to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, which drew an estimated 30,000 people, and gave him a hug when she met him.
Mason was thrilled.
“It was lots of fun,” he said. “She’s nice, very nice.”
Obama, he said, was “the number one person that I needed to meet to get this word across America. And I think she’s going to help me do that.”
Mason got an early head start on the 85 important people. He was inspired, in part, by Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett’s challenge to Oklahoma City residents to collectively lose 1 million pounds. He wrote to the mayor after he shed the weight, and was featured in Cornett’s State of the City speech this year.
The attention soon started flowing his way. Gov. Mary Fallin has signed Mason’s book, as have Rep. John Sullivan, R-Tulsa, Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett and many others.
He’s done media interviews around the city and even on the CBS Evening News. So the pressure is on to keep the weight off, and he knows it. But he relishes it and says it’s motivation to keep working hard and spreading his message.
“I’d like to make this story bigger because you don’t see a bunch of kids trying to talk to other kids about weight loss and getting active,” Mason said.
Mason credits his two brothers with helping him become more active. Casey, 8, took it seriously, and he and Mason want other children to do the same, and to make it a family effort.
“We helped each other,” Casey said. “And now he goes outside with me more often to play and jump on the trampoline.”
It’s the strength in numbers that Mason said can help more children like him lose weight, but they’ll have to decide for themselves when the time is right to do it.
“They don’t feel right with themselves because people make them feel not right with themselves,” Mason said.
“I just want them to know it’s their choice to get active.”