Bienvenu is TOPS state queen

Juanita Bienvenu of Patterson was crowned Louisiana State Queen during the Take Off Pounds Sensibly State Recognition Day Saturday at the Holiday Inn in Lafayette.

“We are very proud of her,” said Berwick TOPS Chapter 0393 Leader Jodi Jett. “She has set an excellent example for our club members.”

Nine members of the local chapter attended the three-day gathering held Thursday through Saturday.

Berwick chapter members also attending were co-leader Connie Thomas, treasurer Carole Hidalgo, secretary Dianne Baillargeon, weight recorder Tammy Clements, assistant weight recorder Lee Hebert, Julie McCarty and Jacquline Langston.

Bienvenu lost 129.75 pounds to reach her goal weight earning her the state title. She was also chapter queen. In Division 2, she took second place for her weight loss during 2012 while first place went to Chris Liner who lost 95 pounds last year.

In Bienvenu’s personal success story for Recognition Day, she related the incident that propelled her to begin her weight-loss journey.

She wrote, “In May of 2010, I fell and broke my shoulder. All 274.75 pounds of me had to be ‘picked up’ by the thinnest Acadian Ambulance driver. A former student had to try to put a sling on me. Everybody had a harder job to do because of my weight.”

The Patterson High School teacher learned that she liked the movement that therapy was giving her and wanted to move more.

“My friend Julie told me she had joined TOPS and it was working for her,” Bienvenu said. “I was so needy! I didn’t get out of the car the first night until I knew she was on her way.”

As her weight shrunk, her confidence grew.

“What a journey this wonderful path to good health has been. I went from being totally dependent on others during my recoup time to a half marathon in 18 months,” she proclaimed. “My doctors are actually proud of me; they tell me that I did it the right way!”

While fast food is no longer an option, she admits that the journey was aided by her husband, Luke. “By the way, my husband is the cook in the family; so literally, I could not have done this without him!”

She has been an inspiration not only to her fellow TOPS members, but to the faculty and students at Patterson High.

“A former student called me an athlete and that comment still brings tears to my eyes,” she said.

Berwick’s TOPS chapter meets Wednesdays at the Berwick Civic Complex. Weigh-in begins at 5:30 p.m. with the meeting at 6 p.m.

New members are always welcomed to the non-profit weight-loss meeting.

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