Area teacher hoping for big win as 'Biggest Loser'
Kelly Minner of Coopersburg one of 3 left on NBC weight-loss reality show.
By Kathy Lauer-Williams
Of The Morning Call
Resisting challenges that included mouth-watering temptations such as mountains of cupcakes and lavish breakfast buffets of bacon, sausage and pancakes, 28-year-old Kelly Minner of Coopersburg shed nearly 55 pounds to become one of three finalists in NBC's reality series ''The Biggest Loser.''
On Tuesday's episode, Minner, a teacher at the Lehigh Valley Charter School for the Performing Arts in Bethlehem, narrowly avoided having her refrigerator light extinguished — she returns for a live broadcast next Tuesday to determine the ''biggest loser'' and winner of $250,000.
And cheering on Minner, who flew out to Los Angeles on Thursday for the final episode, will be 200 co-workers and students at the charter school, which will be featured in a live segment during the 8 p.m. broadcast.
The school's Superintendent Tom Lubben said NBC spent a day last month at the school filming Minner as she taught classes and interacted with students. He said the footage of Minner at the school, all done under the veil of secrecy, also will be featured on Tuesday's final.
Chris Minner, Minner's father, said his daughter, who weighed 242 pounds at the start of the show, has lost additional weight but hasn't weighed herself in three weeks.
''She's a perfectionist and her goal is to lose 100 pounds,'' he said. ''We're excited. She did very well and she exercises three hours a day religiously.''
On the unscripted, one-hour show which debuted in October, two celebrity fitness trainers helped 13 contestants lose weight through comprehensive diet and exercise plans. Each week, another contestant was eliminated until only three were left.
Minner was filmed in the first nine episodes at a Malibu ranch during 12 weeks from August to November, after which she returned home. For Tuesday's show, she and the two other finalists will compete to see how much weight they lost on their own — without the help of the professional trainers and nutritionists.
At the school Thursday, more than 100 students lined up in the hallway to get tickets for the live segment that will take place in the school's theater.
''She looks really good,'' said Shauna Alexander, 17. ''She's gorgeous, healthy and really determined.''
Along with her family, Minner will be joined in Los Angeles for the finale by fellow charter school teachers Amy Lawrence and Diane Wagner.
''We'll be there to support her and share it with her firsthand,'' said Lawrence, who met Minner when the school opened in September 2003.
''It's been a life-altering experience for her and changed the way she looks at herself,'' Lawrence said. ''She's more at peace with who she is.''
Minner's father agreed the change has been more than just physical.
''In the past she always struggled with her weight and when she hit plateaus she would give up. I think this has given her more mental toughness,'' he said.
Wagner said during Minner's 12 weeks at the ranch, ''we literally couldn't contact her.''
Although Minner is restricted by a confidentiality agreement with NBC from talking about the show, her father said she told him she got along well with the other contestants and described Maurice, who was eliminated Tuesday, as a ''big sweetheart,'' and had a close bond with Lisa, who was voted off on Week 8. On an earlier episode another Lehigh Valley contestant, Matt Kamont of Slatington, was voted off. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Wagner said Minner has no idea what will happen Tuesday.
''She's as much in the dark as the rest of America,'' she said.
But Wagner said even if Minner doesn't win the money she still wins.
''She is so inspired to keep up the weight loss,'' she said. ''She was addicted to the scale for a long time. Now she realizes all that matters is what she sees in the mirror.''