Bridging the Gap to Community Wellness, Personal Fitness
APRIL 1, 2016

Ohio Valley business executives to embark on three-month fitness, nutrition program to inspire others

As Mother Teresa once said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Leveraging one’s own personal commitment to positively impact the lives of many others is exactly what 20 Ohio Valley business, education, and municipal leaders are hoping to achieve by participating in the first-ever Community Fitness Challenge for Executives.   
After several weeks of preparation, the Community Fitness Challenge (CFC) will launch on April 1, when the competitors will arrive at The Ryan Ferns Healthplex to undergo blood work and biometric testing to establish the baseline for their three-month fitness and wellness journey. Thanks to the support and guidance of designated RF Healthplex professional trainers and nutritionists, the group will participate in 5 a.m. workouts three days per week in addition to a weekly nutrition class over the course of a 12-week period, driving each toward what is anticipated to be a “total health transformation.”
With West Virginia leading the nation in heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, a tailored wellness program like this could have a major impact, says Community Fitness Challenge founder David McKinley, CFP®, president and managing director of McKinley Carter Wealth Services.  
“I founded the Community Fitness Challenge because I saw an opportunity to bring together busy executives who, like me, are looking for ways to improve the lives of people all around them while taking care of their own health,” McKinley said. “The friendly competition among peers working toward healthier lifestyles, and the sharing of ideas and experiences along the way, will benefit everyone.”
McKinley, who has volunteered to be a CFC competitor, admits he hasn’t focused enough on his own health and wellness over the course of his adult years. “Like many of the competitors, I just don’t find time to exercise on a regular basis and I don’t really focus on eating right,” he said. “So I’m enthusiastic about this program and working with others who have similar goals and needs, and to inspire one another and hopefully the community at large.”  
An additional element to the challenge is that each participant will be competing on behalf of a charity of their choosing. Each competitor has donated $1,000 to the CFC charity pool, and at the end of the competition on June 30, an overall winner will be determined and $20,000 in cash will be presented to his/her charity to use to enhance client services or programs.
“Involving charities is a significant aspect to this competition and an obvious source of even more motivation to stick with the program,” McKinley said. He added that he will be competing for the Oglebay Foundation for the benefit of furthering projects to maintain and improve community services at Oglebay Park.
Ryan Ferns, owner of The Ryan Ferns Healthplex, is a major sponsor for the event and has created the customized three-month Community Fitness Challenge program. He has designated King’s Daughters Child Care Center as his charity in the competition.
“The Ryan Ferns Healthplex was designed to be able to provide lasting health and fitness changes in the lives of everyday people,” Ferns said. “The CFC is an incredible opportunity for the Healthplex to showcase what we can do for executives who we know have limited time to dedicate to their well-being. Our goal is to target the leaders of these local companies and organizations, which we believe, in turn, will impact all of their employees and customers throughout the Ohio Valley. I am honored to be a part of an event of this magnitude.”
The estimated impact of this event is significant when one considers not only the employee numbers at each of the competitors’ own businesses (5,000+), but also the number of customers, clients, alumni, students, and constituents of those same organizations, not to mention the numbers represented by the charities involved. The potential reach of the CFC—through its competitors, their companies, and their designated non-profits—could well be over 250,000, including nearly every resident of the Wheeling area and beyond.
Jim Pennington, president and CEO of The Health Plan, has also agreed to participate in the CFC as both a competitor and corporate sponsor.  
“I agreed to participate in the Community Fitness Challenge for two primary reasons. Personally, I want to take my fitness to another level and develop a consistent wellness strategy for myself,” Pennington said. “And professionally, with 19 other local leaders participating, I feel it sends a strong message that our respective organizations are committed to a healthier atmosphere at our companies and in Wheeling.”
Pennington has chosen to compete on behalf of Wheeling Health Right. “Wheeling Health Right is a community partner whose mission complements that of The Health Plan in striving to manage and improve the health and well-being of our community members,” he said.
In addition to McKinley, Ferns and Pennington, other CFC “executive” competitors (and their designated charities) include Lisa Allen of Ziegenfelder Co. (Crittenton Services); Lawrence Bandi of Central Catholic High School (Wheeling Jesuit University); Michael Caruso of OVHS&E (Harmony House); Todd Clossin of WesBanco Inc. (American Heart Association); Father James Fleming of Wheeling Jesuit University (Central Catholic High School); Steve Greiner of West Liberty University (WLU Foundation); Fire Chief Larry Helms of Wheeling Fire Dept. (Wheeling Health Right); Dr. David Hess of Reynolds Memorial Hospital (Young Life of Marshall County); Danielle McCracken of Oglebay Institute (Oglebay Institute); Kim Miller of Ohio County Schools (Ohio County Schools Foundation); Bryan Minor of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston (WV Catholic Foundation); Mark Peluchette of Liberty Distributors (Central Catholic High School); John Reasbeck of Omni Strategic Technologies (St. Vincent de Paul Parish School); Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger of Wheeling Police Dept. (Special Olympics and Make A Wish Foundation); Rob Sincavich of Team Sledd (Catholic Charities of WV); Erikka Storch of Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce (The Linsly School); and Will Turani of Orrick (St. John’s Home for Children).
Event organizers are also proud to have additional corporate backing from Wheeling Island Hotel – Casino – Racetrack and the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce. Both sponsors are providing significant financial and administrative support toward the success of the CFC.
Throughout the competition, weekly updates on competitors’ progress will be posted on the CFC Facebook page: In July, an awards ceremony will be held to crown the Challenge and charity winner.


JULY 23, 2016

Liberty Distributors President Mark Peluchette is named winner of inaugural ‘Community Fitness Challenge for Executives’

Naming an overall winner of the Community Fitness Challenge for Executives (CFC) proved to be more difficult than event organizers originally anticipated. Why? Because each of the 20 competitors were so committed to the challenge and so dedicated to helping one another succeed, that all of the final scores were very close. But after two tie-breakers, a winner did emerge: 51-year-old Mark Peluchette, president of Liberty Distributors.
Before a large crowd at the Wheeling Chamber Business After-Hours event on July 21, Ryan Ferns, owner of The Ryan Ferns Healthplex and creator of the CFC’s customized crossfit program, first announced an overall tie between Peluchette and Undo’s Family Restaurants President Nick Sparachane.
“Everyone came into this competition at a different level of fitness,” Ferns said. “But I told them at the start that they would all have an equal chance to win based on the metrics we put in place. But I never really thought a tie would be possible.”
Ferns said two categories of measurements were considered to determine the CFC winner: fitness and nutrition. Because both Peluchette and Sparachane tied for first place overall in the fitness measurements, and then tied for second place overall in the nutrition measurements, Ferns had to refer to his two tie-breakers to come up with the final winner. 
The close scores realized by the 16 men and four women who competed in the CFC are the direct result of their accomplishments over the three-month challenge period. Ferns announced that,
collectively, the competitors did 20,000 sit-ups, 9,000 pull-ups, 12,000 squats, 8,000 push-ups, saw a 450-point change in their cholesterol levels, and lost an astounding total of 320 lbs.
In winning the CFC, Peluchette thanked CFC organizers, his fellow competitors, his wife Amber, his family and co-workers for their support. “I never anticipated the caliber of this challenge,” Peluchette said to the crowd. “If Ryan [Ferns] or David [McKinley] call and ask you to do this, do yourself a favor and say ‘yes!’”
Peluchette was referring to CFC founder David McKinley’s remarks to the crowd that hinted at a second CFC class for this fall.  
“The Community Fitness Challenge appealed to CEOs and presidents on many different levels,” McKinley said. “Participants were able to greatly improve their own personal health, the charity aspect allowed participants to compete on behalf of an organization they were passionate about, and the social interaction created a fun and motivational atmosphere. We’re receiving a lot of enthusiasm about doing another class this fall.”
Each executive in the CFC committed to a three-day-per-week workout at 5 a.m., a weekly nutrition class, and a four-week Whole30 nutritional program. Additionally, each donated $1,000 to the CFC Charity Pool that was ultimately awarded to Peluchette’s chosen organization, Central Catholic High School, which is his high school alma mater.
The CFC footprint and impact was quite significant, as evident by the responses to the challenge’s Facebook page ( In May 2016 alone, the reach of the social media site’s posts skyrocketed to more than 31,000 people. Another positive spin-off of the CFC has been the creation of a new “Fitness Menu” for Undo’s Restaurants. CFC runner-up Nick Sparachane, with the input of Healthplex Nutritionist Kathi Leonard and his own culinary team, unveiled the new menu at all Undo’s locations on July 22.
The competitors, their companies, and their chosen charities in the inaugural CFC were:

  • Lisa Allen (Ziegenfelder Ice Cream Co.) - Crittenton Services
  • Lawrence Bandi (Central Catholic High School) - Wheeling Jesuit University
  • Michael Caruso (OVHS&E) - Harmony House
  • Todd Clossin (WesBanco) - American Heart Association
  • Father James Fleming (Wheeling Jesuit University) - Central Catholic High School
  • Steve Greiner (West Liberty University) - West Liberty University Foundation
  • Chief Larry Helms (Wheeling Fire Department) - Wheeling Health Right
  • Dr. David Hess (Reynolds Memorial Hospital) -Young Life of Marshall County
  • Danielle McCracken (Oglebay Institute) - Oglebay Institute
  • David McKinley (McKinley Carter Wealth Services) - Oglebay Foundation
  • Kim Miller (Ohio County Schools) – Woodsdale Elementary School
  • Bryan Minor (Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston) - WV Catholic Foundation
  • Mark Peluchette (Liberty Distributors) - Central Catholic High School
  • Jim Pennington (The Health Plan) - Wheeling Health Right
  • John Reasbeck (Omni Strategic Technologies) - St. Vincent de Paul School
  • Chief Shawn Schwertfeger (Wheeling Police Dept.) - Ohio County Special Olympics and Make-A-Wish Foundation
  • Rob Sincavich (Team Sledd) - Catholic Charities of WV
  • Nick Sparchane (Undo’s Family Restaurants) - Miracle League of the Ohio Valley
  • Erikka Storch (Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce) - The Linsly School
  • Will Turani (Orrick) - St. John’s Home for Children
  • CFC Program Oversight/Management: Ryan Ferns (RF Healthplex) - King's Daughters Child Care Center
In addition to McKinley Carter Wealth Services and RF Healthplex, the following sponsors provided significant support to the CFC program: Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce, The Health Plan, and Wheeling Island Hotel – Casino – Racetrack.