Mayor issues challenge to lose weight, and a citizen responds

A few weeks ago, Oklahoma City resident Amy Petty sent an e-mail to her mayor, Mick Cornett, urging him to fix a bridge that was out of commission. “I told him it was his own fault that I was hassling him like that,” Petty says.

Petty and Cornett have never met, but they do have a history of sorts.

A few years ago, Cornett stepped on the scale and had a revelation. “I realized I fit the definition of an obese person,” he says. So he put himself on a diet and lost 40 pounds in 40 weeks. But Cornett was all too aware that his weight problem was far from unique in his community. “We kept showing up on lists of the most obese cities in America.”

And so on Jan. 1, 2008, standing in front of the elephants at the local zoo, the mayor urged his whole city to go on a diet.


Petty wasn’t there for Cornett’s announcement, but she heard about the diet and decided she might as well try it. At the time, the 5-foot-4 survivor of the Oklahoma City bombing was 40 years old and weighed 350 pounds. “I never did anything athletic. I’d run if somebody chased me. Maybe.”

She dropped her first 100 pounds mainly by counting calories. Then she got active. Really active.

Last year Petty — now less than half her former self — completed a half marathon and two triathlons and logged 2,300 miles on her bike, including 450 miles during a seven-day trek across Oklahoma. She also regularly bikes the 25-mile round trip to work and back. And that’s why she’s hassling her mayor.

The only bike-safe route to Petty’s job includes that out-of-order bridge.


Karen Ravn