By Lauren Finnegan, JBLM Garrison Public AffairsJune 25, 2019
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- With five kids, a part-time job, a full load of college classes and the title of military spouse, Cheryl Del Rosario is no stranger to hard work. She fills her days with tasks designed to care for every aspect of her family's lives and, in the meanwhile, forgets to give any attention to the most important person in the equation -- herself.
All of that changed June 24 when the Joint Base Lewis-McChord spouse was recognized for the inspiring essay she wrote in response to the Defense Commissary Agency's Military Fit Family contest, detailing how she plans to get healthy in 2019 and beyond. Del Rosario was chosen from over 1,000 entrants to have a picnic at Holiday Park on JBLM, with Robert Irvine, host of the Food Network show, "Restaurant Impossible," and founder of the Robert Irvine Foundation, which focuses on giving back and servicing the military and first responders.
With about 30 of her closest friends and family by her side, Del Rosario kicked off her journey to losing weight, living a healthier lifestyle and to making herself a priority.
Her journey started in December 2018 after she stepped on a scale and saw the numbers slowly climb to her highest weight ever -- it was then that she knew she had to make a change.
"I was so embarrassed and ashamed for allowing myself to get to that point," Del Rosario wrote in her essay. "But for some reason, this year I have a fire within me to finally lose the weight. I will not allow my family to be defeated or to see failure. We may struggle along the way for happier, healthier lives, but I will not allow the fire to burn out because we are an Army family and we are Army strong."
After being treated to a healthy sampling of foods cooked to perfection by Irvine's staff, Del Rosario was lauded for her efforts to change her and her family's future.
"Here's a young lady through circumstances of her own is ashamed of what she looks like and who she is, and decided to change," Irvine said. "There's nothing worse than feeling ashamed of who you are, especially when you're wearing the cloth of a nation. Without the spouses, our military would be nothing, and we're going to make sure she feels good about herself."
After presenting Del Rosario with commissary gift cards, a signed copy of his new cookbook and a gym bag full of healthy snacks to help her along on her journey, Irvine took his commitment to Del Rosario one step further.
"If you will join a gym, I will pay for the membership, I will get you a personal trainer for a year… and give you a year of protein powders to keep you fit," he said. "But I can't do it. It's going to be you. What you wrote in (your letter), I'm going to hold you to. Because you are going to be a beacon of light to a lot of people. You are going to be a light for hundreds and hundreds of other women in the same position that felt like you."
Del Rosario was overwhelmed by Irvine's kindness and was ready to get the next chapter in her life started.
"I've always kind of struggled losing weight, so I just decided that this year was my year to do it," Del Rosario said. "Today's been very exciting and now having those resources from Robert is going to make my journey a little bit easier."
Before chasing after her son, who was racing toward a playground nearby, Del Rosario had a final thought for other military spouses in similar situations.
"Sometimes it's hard to put ourselves first because we always put our family first wherever we go," Del Rosario said. "But always remember that you are worthy."