Tuesday, September 20, 2011

UI graduate to be contestant on 'The Biggest Loser'

Lindsey Treffry | Argonaut

Three out of 10 college students are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

This was the case for University of Idaho graduate Courtney Rainville, before she was a contestant on season 12 of “The Biggest Loser,” which premieres at 8 p.m. Tuesday on NBC.

Rainville graduated in 2009 with a degree in communications and now works as an Internet marketing specialist in Scottsdale, Ariz. She was born in Lewiston and has struggled with weight since she was a young girl.

“I’ve always been aware that I was overweight,” Rainville said.

At 270 pounds, she said there were many moments throughout her day when she couldn’t fit comfortably in clothes and couldn’t cross her legs. She said she is 24 years old and had never had a boyfriend or gone on a date. According to an NBC press release, her father had a heart attack two years ago, as did her grandfather who died. So she applied to be a contestant on “The Biggest Loser.”

“The first time I applied, I was a senior at UI and kind of had help from my sorority sisters to help make a video and put myself out there,” Rainville said. “It was more on a limb to try and see if I could get a call back, what I never thought could happen.”

Rainville said words could not describe her reaction to her call back. Although she was a fan of “The Biggest Loser,” she said she had a hard time watching the show because she was envious of the people who had a chance to lose weight. She also said for those who watch the show at home, there is a misconception that contestants are overweight and lazy, and that viewers themselves can do the same work.

“It’s harder than anyone expected — physically and mentally,” Rainville said.

Depending on the day, Rainville trained an average of six to eight hours. Trainers like Bob Harper, professional tennis player Anna Kournikova and fitness expert Dolvett Quince intimidated Rainville initially, but she was excited to meet Harper, the veteran trainer.

“I was a little celebrity guru and all giddy and nerdy about it and he was fantastic,” she said.

Jill Carmen, “The Biggest Loser” and NBC publicist, said production of the show already finished except for a shoot in October and the live finale.

Rainville gave some wisdom to those trying to lose weight.

“Push yourself with that friend,” Rainville said. “Try something you enjoy doing: riding a bike, classes, basketball, something that’s going to give you activity.”

Rainville said to also take advantage of the UI Student Recreation Center, even though she did not.

“If you think that you can’t (keep going) or you want to give up, you can go that extra mile or an extra 30 minutes,” she said.

“The Biggest Loser: Battle of the Ages” runs at 8 p.m. every Tuesday on NBC and episodes can be viewed online at nbc.com, after the episode’s premiere. Rainville’s first interview can be viewed at nbc.com/the-biggest-loser/video/meet-courtney/1354605/.

“Tune in every week to watch and root me on,” Rainville said. “I love the support I’ve gotten from the university already.”

As seen in the Sept. 20 issue of The Argonaut.

Missing student confirmed dead

Archive from June 2011
Lindsey Treffry | The Communicator

SFCC student Leighton Welch, 35, missing since March, was found dead in the Spokane River on May 19.

On March 28, Michonda Weaver, Welch’s fiance, was talking to him via cellphone. He described a steep cliff, she said. Welch also told her that a dog in the area had spooked him.

Welch was intoxicated when he left home that day, according to Weaver. Spokane detectives said his cellphone was last used in the vicinity of 330 S. Oak St., near Browne’s Addition.

Welch’s body was found in the Spokane River close to the Stevens County line and near the Nine Mile boat launch, according to a May 21, Spokesman-Review article by Meghann Cuniff.

Welch was the father of two of Weaver’s children, Elijah, age 2, and Achellis, 7 months. The couple also raised an autistic child, named Zackahriha, age 4. The day after Welch’s body was found, Weaver discovered she was pregnant with Welch’s third child.

“He was the best father any child could ask for,” Weaver said. “He was always there for his kids.” Welch was studying social work and planned to transfer from SFCC to Eastern Washington University in the fall to become a drug and alcohol counselor.

Gerontology and social services instructor Polly McMahon had Welch in some of her classes.

“I could depend on him to want something better,” McMahon said. “For himself, his family, and his children.”

According to McMahon, he sat at the same table in class everyday. Part of the Coeur D’Alene tribe, Welch was paid to attend college, and through the payments supported his family, according to Weaver.

“Whatever grade he got he’d always ask ‘What can I do to get a better grade?’,” McMahon said. “Even if he had the maximum points, he’d want extra credit — a revise, a redo.”

Welch was the third student that the human services department lost this year, according to McMahon, who assumes Welch had an alcohol relapse the day he was on the cliff.

“When you drink you have impaired coordination. It happens,” McMahon said. “Especially if you have a grueling background (like) he did.

“He had turned his life around.”

According to Cuniff’s article, Welch had felony convictions, but according to Weaver, he had not committed a crime since the early 2000s.

“We had our problems, but we had an autistic child,” Weaver said. “Every relationship with a developmental child has a problem.

“But we overcame it.” Although plans are not concrete, McMahon and other social services students are planning a tribal-themed memorial for Leighton.

“He was a great guy,” Gerontology student Kerry Picard said. “He was personable (and) always wanting to help.”

According to McMahon, he was a iconoclast, always questioning and defying what is considered normal.

“A day without Leighton is a day without sunshine,” McMahon said. “He made me laugh and my eyes roll.”

According to Weaver, there has been some controversy over his death, especially online. Comments under the Spokesman story claimed that he committed suicide.

“He would never have done that,” Weaver said. “He was the person he was now because of our family.”

As seen in issue 42.11 of The Communicator.