The Edmond Sun

Local News

July 27, 2012

Teen leads way for Midnight Streak run

Mason Harvey continues ‘Strive for 85’ campaign

Mason Harvey of Guthrie is on a mission to do more than just help people lose weight. He is helping raise awareness about an issue that he is all too familiar with — school bullying.

Mason, 12, had been subjected to bullying for several years due to him being shy and overweight.

Tired of being bullied, Mason decided to make a dramatic change. He dropped 85 pounds going from 206 pounds to 120 pounds.

Next month, Mason and his family will participate in the eighth annual Midnight Streak, a 5K run for the arts on Aug. 11 at City Arts Center, 3000 General Pershing Blvd. at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City. Proceeds support City Arts Center’s mission to encourage artistic expression in all its forms through education and exhibitions.

“I was tired of being bullied,” Mason said. “(Bullies) had been on me from third to sixth grade. The beginning of sixth grade I said I was tired of this. I was tired of being overweight. I don’t want to be bullied anymore. I put it upon myself and I went to my parents and told them that I was tired of being tired all the time.”

Mason, who is an honor student at Guthrie Junior High, said after losing his weight he wanted to share his message with others about bullying.

“There are other children out there that have gone through bullying,” Mason said. “I have seen on the news that there have been kids who have died because of bullying. They decided they were done with their life. I didn’t think that was right. I feel like everyone has a purpose. It is not about what they look like. It is how they are on the inside. I want to reach out and tell the other children don’t listen to the bullies. I know how they feel. I overcame childhood obesity. I want them to know that it can be done.”

In the process, Mason started a campaign called Strive for 85 in which he does things in increments of 85 to help tell his story. Some of his goals included meeting 85 important or famous people who helped spread his story; host or attend 85 events that will help promote awareness to help with childhood obesity; help his father lose 85 pounds and help or inspire 85 kids that are facing the same challenges he did.

Mason’s campaign caught the attention of several high profile individuals including Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and first lady Michelle Obama.

Obama invited Mason and his family to visit the White House in Washington, D.C., to talk about his efforts.

“That was amazing,” Mason said of his visit with Mrs. Obama. “She was very nice. We had a five or 10 minute conversation. It was very cool.”

Additionally, Mason has started a book in which he journals his efforts and collects the signatures of the people who have influenced him.

“The very first day I wrote in there how I felt I was doing,” he said. “I looked at it and realized that I needed autographs from all the people that are helping me do this. It is basically a log book of all the people who have helped me so far. I wanted to meet 85 influential people and I have actually got that.”

Mason said he didn’t have a magic weight-loss number in mind when he started. He added that he lost the weight by changing his eating habits and walking steps at the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple in Guthrie, which is part of the complex that was Oklahoma’s original state Capitol.

“It was not a set goal — it just happened,” Mason said. “Now I have just been maintaining the weight for about a year now. I cut back on the junk food and cut back food. I started eating healthy. I started eating more fruits and vegetables. I felt better after that. I had more energy.”

Moderation is important to helping him keep his weight trim, Mason says.

“It’s hard not to go there (fast food),” he said. “I am watching what I eat. The temptations are there.”

Last year’s Midnight Streak was Mason’s first running event. He did the 1-mile fun run and this year is looking forward to running the full 5K. This time he’s also bringing his parents Mike and Julie and his brothers, Brenan, 17, and Casey, 9, to participate as well.

“After that run it changed me,” Mason said. “It felt good because I actually finished the mile and I had never been able to do that before without stopping and having to take a breath. After that I decided to do a lot more races.”

Mason said dealing with bullying was tough for him in school.

“I tried anything I could to get away from them,” he said. “I would fake stomach aches and tell them I needed to go home.”

Julie Harvey said it was difficult watching her son struggle.

“It broke my heart when I had to leave him there at school and telling him he had to stick it out.”

Mason said he never felt anger toward his bullies.

“I have my parents’ good heart,” he said. “The reason I didn’t get angry is because I knew they probably had problems at home. They probably got picked on at home. They probably didn’t have a good home life. They do it to other people because it is probably going on with them.”

The bullying leveled off after the other students saw his physical transformation, Mason said.

“It died down because I guess they found other targets,” Mason said. “They didn’t recognize me. They were expecting to see the same kid from last year. They put me out of their eyesight.”

Julie Harvey said she is proud of what Mason has accomplished.

“It has been a huge transformation,” she said. “He feels better about himself. It has helped his self-esteem tremendously. He isn’t shy. He loves to have fun and is very outgoing. We are very proud of him.”

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