Pounds for Potential

Vondran shedding pounds to get healthy, raise money

Vondran Shedding Pounds to get Healthy, Raise Money by John Marx

Offering the challenge, Mike Vondran knew, was the easy part. Taking the steps to complete the task would be the daunting end of the deal.

Vondran, the CEO of Davenport's TAG Communications and board chairman of the HAVlife™ Foundation (havlife.org), needed to change. He stands 6-feet-6 inches, lending to the obvious that Vondran has always been a big man.

But at 54, Vondran had become too big of a big man. His weight took a "awfully dangerous" (his words) turn upward to 464 pounds, and it was time to catch himself before he fell from life's cliff.


From that, Vondran began his "Pounds for Potential" quest. With the help of many friends and the Rock Valley Physical Therapy staff, he will undergo a lifestyle change while raising money for HAVlife™.

Pounds for Potential plays to the mission of HAVlife™: To prevent lost potential in youth ages 10 to 15 through the support of participation in athletics, music and the arts. Hav Life was begun in the memory of Hunter Aaron Vondran, Mike and Brenda Vondran's son, who died in August 2004 at 13. In addition to the Quad-Cities, Dubuque and Iowa City also have Hav Life chapters.

"I have always been big," Vondran said. "But I have been pretty healthy overall. To that, however, the weight had become a barrier to living my life at the pace I prefer to live.

"I cannot tell you the number of meals I ate behind the wheel of my truck," he said. "I can live life at a certain weight, but not at 464 pounds. I am touched so many friends have joined me and so many others have pledged money in our pursuit of a better way."

He rattled off the names of Mike Thoms, Shannon Adams, Marshall Porter, Amy Jenkins, Kim Guy, Ken Guy, Randy Amhof, Roger Amhof and Ellis Kell as Quad-Citians joining him in his quest to shed pounds and raise money for HAVlife™.


Vondran said he has lost 34 pounds but started exercising and dropping weight before he went public with his challenge. He did it simply to get his life in order. His first walk in late November was one mile. Twice he stopped to catch his breath, causing him to wonder how far he had slipped.

Gradually, he made strides and today exercises at noon each day for at least 30 minutes under the supervision of Rock Valley Physical Therapy staff. He also walks daily and — at the expense of a pair of tennis shoes and occasional blister — is up to nearly six miles per day.


"It's part fundraiser and part way to build some healthy habits," said Vondran, whose 10-week target is 50 pounds on top of what he has already lost.

"This has to be a lasting change," he said. "It's been great. I'm having trouble sleeping, but everything else has been great. It's a process, and we all know that, but it's always nice to have motivation and nice to have others willing to change with you. The support process is amazing."

Vondran said that, when the challenge is complete, he will continue to work on his re-boot. He hopes those who joined him do the same. He even hopes others caught in a rut can take inspiration from the idea.

"It's created a direction to take," said Vondran. "It's a mindset and way of life, all for the better."

Here's hoping it works.

If you would like share in "Pounds for Potential," call 563-676-1830.

----- Vondran Shedding Pounds to get Healthy, Raise Money by John Marx

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