Dallas SparkTeam Holds First Rally

By , SparkPeople Blogger
By Jerome Merlau

September 26, 2010 is a day that I had been looking forward to for several months. Back in July, the decision was made that The SparkDallas team needed to have a get together so we could meet our teammates in person, share stories and spend some time together. Picnic, everybody loves a picnic, so that’s what we decided to do. Random is the best way to describe how the date was selected for this event. That’s it I thought, this is going to happen. I didn’t care if there were two or 200 who showed up, we were going to attempt to bring a group together for a little meet and greet.

The first invitation went out to the entire SparkDallas team with a link to the RSVP forum thread. We needed to have some sort of idea about how many to expect. The responses started coming fairly quickly-- some couldn’t come, some were excited, some just wanted to raz me, imagine that! Over the next several weeks, reminders were sent out nearly every day with at least one huddle message mentioning the picnic. The team members made sure that every new member who joined the group was immediately invited to the picnic. The momentum started to pick up a little and so did the activity in the forums.

Having never been to Flag Pole Hill, I wasn’t sure what to expect, where to park, where to meet or anything else. I pulled into the park and literally there is a flag pole on the hill. Who knew? I drove up toward the flag pole and wouldn’t you know it, there were no picnic tables up by the pole. As I drove out of the lot toward the top of the hill, I saw a car stopped in the middle of the road, it was Donna, AKA Sparkle1908. She and I had previously met when we walked on the Katy Trails. We drove back down toward the hill and decided to take a look up by the pavilion and see what was up there. Everything here is first come first serve, so wouldn’t you know it, the pavilion was crawling with people, so this COULD be FUN!! Keep in mind that only a few of us had over met before; some of us didn’t even have pictures on our SparkPage, so recognition could have been a problem, too.

Finally, over the hill I saw Andrea AKA ANDREA0301 and started waving at her and the group of folks walking with her. As they got closer I could see Coach Nancy was in that group, several men and women I didn’t know. Nancy and I had met earlier this summer while running a race together. Next came Susie AKA SUSIEWHITE1109 and Mich AKA MICHCLEARY, and oh yeah, NOMADDAD, better known as Steve. Amy AKA AMYGOES211 was joined by her husband, Michael and before too long came Ryan Shelly AKA IUSECRAYONS and Susie AKA Glazed-Donut. Then came Lenore SEEMETHRU1, Cindy CSullivan83, Lynette AKA MARATHONMOMTO4, Leslie AKA LP2278, Lauren AKA MYLAUREN2 and her dog Maggie. Several of the members brought their spouses and their children. All in all there were 25 of us.

Lynette brought the COOLEST looking cake I think I’ve ever seen! THANKS to Lynette for the cake and for Shelly for making healthy birthday cookies.

Conversations were flying around so fast it was almost hard to keep up to be honest. Nancy and I chatted about my health and potential injuries. She noted that I had lost more weight since we met the first time. I remember a conversation with NOMADDAD about the fact that he has been a member of SparkPeople for 5 years and had not lost a pound. He and his wife had paid for boot camps and other programs and had not lost anything except their money. He came back to SparkPeople about 5 weeks ago, got involved with the SparkDallas team and has since lost 16 lbs. We discussed how important the forums were to our success. We talked about how the group atmosphere makes all the difference-- the encouragement, the inspiration in those forums will keep a person motivated to change his/her life. We agreed that this is critical to success, being involved with a team.

I overheard the runners in the group talking about upcoming race schedules, how we could all run together, who was running what races, etc. The SparkDallas team is really growing with our runners and that’s super exciting for a rookie runner like me.

There were even some tears shed as stories about our passions for health, our passion for running, our joy of seeing others succeed were shared among the group. What an awesome afternoon of making new friends and knowing that this group of people will be there to support each other, motivate each other, pick each other up if we fall, inspire each other, and most importantly, will be at the NEXT SparkDallas team function. The resounding words of the day were “we’ve got to do this again!” We will be doing things like this more often in Dallas and the goal would be to have more attend each event we schedule!


Jerome, AKA JMerlau joined SparkPeople in December 2009 and has lost 95 pounds to date. He is the married father of 2 girls and lives in the Dallas area.

“Over the years I got lazy and because of this my weight I shot up to 264lbs and had no desire to do anything about it. On December 28, 2009 I made a decision to take my life back. I decided that my wife deserved a better husband, my kids deserved a better father, and I deserved to be here for many more years. I started eating right, working out a lot, and I do those things every single day. I have more energy than I have in years, I think more clearly and I'm passionate about helping others achieve their weight loss goals.”

Do reading stories like this inspire you to call your own SparkPeople rally in your area? Will you be attending a SparkPeople rally or event this year?

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I started just this past summer as a team leader for our local Sparkteam. I have been contemplating having a Meet & Greet in hopes to inspire, motivate, and bring some friendly faces to names in our posts. I thought if we get to see real people who are doing their best daily to reach healthy goals it might help those who are struggling. This blog helped me see its possible, FUN, and a true healthy-happy adventure waiting to happen. Report
We used to love going to Flag Pole hill especially late at night. Report
I think this was a great idea...I think the spark teams from all the other states should do this too. Great Idea!!!!!!!! Report
Wow....I love it! Report
Guess I need to move back to Texas!! Report
I grew up in Dallas, go Big D!!! Report
Awwwwwwwwwww.....sounds like you guys had a blast!!! I live in Fort Worth---wish I had know about this rally!!!! Guess I need to be a part of the Dallas Team!!!! Report
WOO HOO!!!! The picnic was GREAT....plenty of inspiration, motivation and great relationships for everyone regardless of where you are in your journey!!

Coach Nancy is AWESOME to say the least and I appreciate her sharing her story with us!!

I am glad that Jerome put this picnic together (he even chose a date with wonderful weather) and I look forward to our next event!!!!

I hope other Dallasites join us for our next event..we have become one huge family..there to encourage and support one another!!! Report
Awesome blog Jerome, and Hmmm, was that Coach Nancy that started the tears? :) Love you Coach Nancy! Lynette, awesome cake! Steve, congrats on signing up for your first 5k- they are addictive- and it's a GOOD addiction!!!!! Have fun! Report
What a great idea, will have to try and do this next summer. Congratulations on the success. Report
Oh what fun! Right now our Connecticut Team is working on a get together! I am looking forward to it. Meeting other Sparkers as you all have done, will be fun, motivational and encouraging. Great job!
And the cake...awesome! Report
Our New Hampshire Team has had 3 rallies so far and we look forward to more! Report
What fun! You had a great turn out. Report
Well done my friend! I have got together on two occasions with people in my area, only a few people have shown interest but it does spread, just like THE SPARK! Report
GREAT blog, Jerome! You did a great job organizing this successful meet and everyone there enjoyed it. I will bet that many more will attend the next one! It sounds like this is inspiring others to have events in their areas too! Report
My husband is the Leader of the UK Main Team & each year for the past 3 years, Pete (DH & also CATMAN124) & I have organised the UK Main Team 'Party in the Park' at Coombe Abbey, Coventry and although the gatherings have only been small so far, we are hoping that as an annual event, it will grow & grow. This year it was held on the 24th July & we had a brilliant time. (see Pete’s Blog from that weekend or mine with more photos)
I am Leader of the UK Midlands Team & we have started meeting up with each other for the odd Sunday lunch, the first of which was last year in Telford, one was in Feb in Birmingham, one was in Nottingham in May & the last was in Telford in September.
It is great fun to meet up with people who share the same lifestyle & face the same challenges.
Well done for organising yours & I hope it grows from year to year.
Much love
Jude x
UK Midlands Team Leader

Congrats on your guest blog and on your successful Dallas picnic! Love the Spark cake -- was that sugar-free?

This is awesome bro! You are mos def making it happen! Report
So awesome, sounds like y'all had a lot of fun!! Report
Sounds wonderful - hoping the Houston team does something similar! Report
that is so cool. I think we had something like that in Ohio this past summer but I couldn't make it. what a great way to meet some of the people you have talked to online and it's nice to meet them face to face. Report
I sounds like you have a great team SparkDallas and had a great time at your picnic. Report
Jerome, what a great, great blog! Too bad we aren't closer. Thanks for all you do! Lynne
That is awesome! Report
Wow! That is SO cool!!
I wish the Portland/Vancouver area could get something together like that. Next summer...maybe? Report

I love any story that has a family and tugs on your heartstrings. Thanks for sharing.
cheryl Report
What a great event and opportunity it was. I live in far north Dallas, so it was about a 40 minute drive for me, but worth every second of it. We had so many exceptional people there, exemplary role models for what can be done and how to do it! Lauren who'd lost over 50#, Michelene, almost in my backyard who's dropped over 80#, Jerome of course, closing in on 100#, and Coach Nancy who's story and encouragement almost brought me to tears.

If you're just using SparkPeople to track your progress - it's time to get on board! Find some role models, talk and chat with them, see their progress, encourage others, let some people into your life who want nothing more than to see you succeed in this mission.

I left the picnic so excited and motivated, it's already made me step-up, changing my sleeping hours to get a little more time for exercise, and even bought some shiny new running shoes and signed up for my 1st 5K. With all the amazing runners in SparkDallas, it'll be great to see if I can't become one myself - not amazing, just a runner.

Thanks Jerome for organizing, Coach Nancy for attending, Susie and Michelene for helping me find the actual site for our group, Lynette for the incredible cake, and the whole SparkDallas team just for being there!! Report
It sounds like a great event! Report
Awesome! Sounds fun and inspiring. Congrats, Jerome, on your healthy choices! Report
JEROME! How awesome that you were able to get together with the Dallas Sparkers!!!! Report
I would love to attend a rally if there was one close enough to me; I can't afford to travel very far. Report
what fun! And that cake looks amazing! Report
Hi,I'm new to sp 3 days, but that was an amazing story. Loved the cake and company. Sounds like this might be a great place to be. Report
Wonderful, loved the cake the article blog was very interesting, hopefully i will attend a sparkpeople rally, I have been in sparkpeople for 5 months so i am geting the hang of it.congratulations to you all. Report
how awesome!!! love the cake!!! Report
That is awesome!

To the small towner's out there. If the people haven't come to the Spark bring the Spark to the town or your friends or a few people a work. Or in my Case 55 of my co-workers and their family members so far.

If we all spread a little bit of the flame around eventually Spark rallies will get bigger and bigger.
Wow that is an amazing story. i could only dream of somthing like that happaning for Montana. I am not much or a community organizer, but i am a great team player. So that was cool to read. Can i get some of the ideas on how you deciced to do a meet and greet spark retreat? Maybe i can get some Montana friends in one this. Report
I am so envious right now! I just wish I could have such a community around me. Congrats to you all on having done this. Absolutely wonderful. Spark on folks! Report
It sounds like you had a memorable day. It was nice that you could join together and enjoy the day while getting to know one another! Report
Go Big D!! Report
WooHoo, Dallas Spark Team!!! So proud of ya'll for getting together!!! Report
Woo hoo Dallas Spark Team. I still have room on my team for the red balloon run next weekend in Plano for Childrens Medical Center. 5k here I come! Report
I live in a fairly small town so I don't think there are enough people to have a rally Report
I wish I lived near Dallas!!!! The picnic sounded like a wonderful time for Sparkers to get together and share stories and just get to know one another!! What a great thing for you to do--organizing such a great time for everyone. Fellowship, good food, support, laughs and plans to get together again---priceless!!!

And to think you had 2 major celebrities present---YOU and Coach Nancy!!! Woo-Hoo!!!!

hmmmm....makes me wonder...I live in the middle of nowhere--36 miles from the nearest larger town......hmmm.....what can I do to help organize an event for my fellow SparkPeople who live near Knoxville, TN??? Report
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