Healthy You Healthy Hennepin

Step to it challenge

Taking strides to better health

April 2018

Before Lee Kholsa made some lifestyle changes, his doctor told him that his diabetes was out of control and he only had six months to live.

Today, the Brooklyn Park resident is leading a healthy, active lifestyle. As part of the county’s 2017 Step to it challenge, he logged almost 2 million steps of physical activity.

Kholsa was one of 5,500 Twin Cities residents who participated in the physical activity challenge last year. Step to it motivates people of all ages and abilities to become more active during the month of May .

During the May 1 - 28 challenge, participants track their steps for a chance to win Twins tickets or other prizes. While Kholsa has claimed the title of top stepper in his city for several years, he said the challenge is not about that.

“I am not doing this for the sake of becoming the winner," he said. "I am only doing it for my own body. By doing the exercises and medication, I am controlling everything now."

I am not doing this for the sake of becoming the winner. I am only doing it for my own body. By doing the exercises and medication, I am controlling everything now.
Lee Kholsa

1.1 billion

Number of

steps tracked by

5,500 people

during 2017

Step to it challenge

Engaging families and communities

People can join the challenge as part of their community, school, workplace or other group.

"The fun thing about this is that anyone can sign up. Families are making a conscious effort to be physically active together,” Tom Luu, physical education teacher, said.

More than 85 students at Tom’s school, School of Engineering and Arts in Golden Valley, joined the county's Step to it challenge last year. The school has won several visits from the Minnesota Twins through the challenge because of its high participation.

Step to it challenge



SEA student Brady logged 200,000 steps of physical activity during last year’s challenge – making him the second top stepper at his school.

“I was so happy to win second place. I just love exercising and am really inspired to run,” Brady said.

Brady’s parents joined him in stepping to it, taking runs and bike rides together. Luu said many other families enjoy joining the challenge together.

Step to it challenge
Step to it challenge
Step to it challenge



Any activity counts

Participants can log all types of activity toward their step total – even for activities already part of their daily routine, like washing the car, cleaning the house and doing laundry.

“Exercise doesn’t have to mean going to the gym. There’s always something you can turn into an exercise,” Sharon Kephart said, a Step to it participant from Brooklyn Center.

For the past several years, she has participated in the challenge with her 93-year-old mother, Doris Kephart, and 27-year-old daughter, Ashlee Kephart. Last year, Sharon was a top stepper for her city.

The challenge has enabled the three generations of women to find new ways to stay active and spend time together.

“Instead of always being in a rush going from place to place, it was a way to see each other every day," Kephart said. "You don’t realize you are taking that many steps every day. It’s encouraging to see and makes you feel good."

Step to it challenge



Participants step to it to stay connected

Crystal resident Naomi Davidson uses the challenge as a way to stay active while meeting people.

"The Step to it challenge is a great way to meet new and existing neighbors," Davidson said. "Introduce yourself as you walk by and ask them to join your team. A safer neighborhood is one where people know each other."

For the past six years, Davidson has inspired her neighbors to get active by forming a neighborhood Step to it team, which she named the “The Dynamos.” The team ends each year’s challenge with a celebratory barbeque at Davidson’s home.

“What I have found is many people think it is too time consuming to enter your steps or that you have to go to a gym," Davidson said. "But you can enter steps daily or weekly using your everyday activities. The challenge only lasts four weeks. Every step helps your city, and you help yourself with the exercise."

Learn more and register for the challenge at before May 1, 2018.


Written by: Nicole Hovatter

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