by MELODIE M. DAVIS
Steve America. Yes, that’s his real name. And it couldn’t be more fitting for this upbeat guy who works for the Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Mt. Crawford. Last year Steve was named a $15,000 winner in the national Wal-Mart ZP Challenge annual incentive program encouraging employees to better their lives through making positive changes in the areas of fitness, family life, finances and food.
A former pro wrestler, Steve used part of the award fund to invite his second oldest daughter, Jessica Hinkle, to a professional recording session at Alive Studios in Harrisonburg where they recorded an original antiwar song, “No More.” Steve had recorded music previously at the studio run by Robbie Meadows, including theme “entrance” music for his wrestling matches, and “Don’t Give Up,” accompanied by Daniel Baugher on guitar, which he uploaded to iTunes—with all proceeds going to The Children’s Miracle Network. The set up on iTunes allows for 60 percent of each 99 cent upload to go to the charity.
Steve knows a lot personally about not giving up. In 1999 he was severely injured in a car accident. A steel rod had to be put in his right femur and he went through extensive rehab at Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center in Fishersville, Va. But he is just grateful he survived. “Life is a gift from God and I felt that the Lord spared my life for a reason and I hope to inspire others.”
Steve and his wife, Lynn or “Mrs. America” as Steve likes to joke, have a blended family of five children: Heather, Jessica, Mileena, Autumn and Justin.
“I live to do as much as I can with the ZP program, especially in the ‘family’ category,” Steve remarked. He thought that recording a song with Jessica would be something special to do together. He has now also recorded a song with his daughter Autumn titled “Tomb” that has over 1000 downloads.
After winning the ZP challenge, Steve became a ZP coach for a team of his Wal-Mart distribution center associates who chose to participate. “I want to help individuals accomplish their goals in all areas of their life,” Steve says. “At work, our morale and productivity has turned around. We stretch at the beginning of the shift, and play basketball on breaks.”
Betty Gayle Cole has been a coworker with Steve at the Wal-Mart distribution center. “Steve is definitely a go getter and encourager for a lot of people,” Betty Gayle commented. “He pushed me outside of my comfort zone and while that’s not always what you want to hear, it a good thing in the long run to accomplish your goals,” she concluded.
Steve completed a “book”—a daily journal of his efforts which kept him on track. As a former wrestler where bulking up muscle is critical, he found the “food” part of the ZP program to be the most difficult.
To make improvements in his family life, Steve focused on making sure “I told someone each day how much I care for them.”
“I wanted to be ethical with what I said and did” and set a goal of eating just 500 calories a meal to help shape up. He had never been big on eating healthy vegetables and foods even though encouraging his children to eat healthily. “I got through it,” Steve said of his diet during the program, with both Jessica and Steve laughing about his efforts to eat healthier. “I needed to practice what I preached.”
For daily improvements in his fitness goals, he would push himself to maybe work out just five extra minutes. His job also involves strenuous physical activity including lifting—so he began thinking of his job as a workout and that he was getting paid to work out. “If I have to work my tail end off, I might as well think of it as a workout,” Steve quipped.
To make improvements in his family life, Steve focused on making sure “I told someone each day how much I care for them.” He also worked to find time to do special things as a family and with individual members, such as recording music.
He also likes to think of his coworkers as family—“the people who are in your life every day”—and also included goals for making sure he expressed appreciation to them. Steve has worked at the Wal-Mart distribution center over nine years and currently works second shift which he enjoys because “people go out of their way to help each other. The people make the job.”
Steve also tackled the finance end of his ZP commitment by eliminating fast food for a month, saying before the ZP challenge he ate out almost every day, especially since he works second shift with a different schedule than his family. “That really zaps your paycheck,” he pointed out. By cooking more for himself including eating more vegetables, he found that eating healthier gave him more energy.
Overall, the ZP challenge program “changed my view of everything,” Steve expresses. He mentioned an uncle, Terry, who gave Steve money for his first car, even though Terry himself couldn’t really afford it. “He was just a huge inspiration; he inspired me to do better, and I want him to know how much he means to us,” Steve says gratefully.
Jessica is also inspired by her stepfather: “He is just awesome. When I first met him, I already thought he was awesome,” adding that what he has been able to do through the ZP program and award impressed her. Jessica works for SBM site services in Elkton and is also a supervisor at the Dairy Queen there where Steve and family enjoy “taking advantage of the 50 percent discount” for employee families.
Steve and Lynn are members of the Grottoes United Methodist Church and Steve says, “My foundation is Jesus and my guiding force in everything I do. I couldn’t have done any of this without him.” When he wrestled he played a “good guy—not aggressive. That’s not my nature.” He would pray regularly before going into the ring.
“It’s unbelievable how much small, every-day changes can make such a big difference,” Steve wrote in his bio for the Wal-Mart ZP Challenge webpage. “$15,000 is an amazing gift, and there are so many other amazing gifts we’ve gotten from ZP. Getting the positive recognition at work was huge. Knowing my family knows how I feel about them is another gift.”
Steve wishes to inspire others saying, “You have to live with passion.”
MELODIE DAVIS, editor of Living, is the mother of three young adult daugthers, and lives wih her husband near Harrisonburg, Va. She also blogs at www.FindingHarmonyBlog.com.
Where to find Steve’s music:
Steve and Jessica’s song “No More,” has had over 500 downloads since it came out, and can be purchased on iTunes. It has also been played on local radio station 98.5.
Also available on CD Baby and Amazon.
“Don”t Give Up,” featuring Steve and co-worker Betty Gayle Cole is also available on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby.
“Tomb,” recorded with daughter Autumn has had over 1000 downloads on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby.
All proceeds go to Children’s Miracle Network.