NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — In a story by The Natchez Democrat published Feb. 15 as a member exchange about a heart disease prevention program, The Associated Press reported erroneously how the program was funded. The program is funded by the Humana Foundation, not the Clinton Foundation.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Graduates of heart, diabetes program shed 300 pounds

The first class of a Diabetes and Heart Disease Prevention Program has not only graduated, but between the 22 participants, has shed more than 300 pounds

By CAIN MADDEN

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — The first class of a Diabetes and Heart Disease Prevention Program has not only graduated, but between the 22 participants, has shed more than 300 pounds.

The yearlong journey began last February with 50 participants, and Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell said even though fewer than half of the participants graduated, an impact has been made on the community.

"If you can help one person, that's progress in itself, but to help 22, that's really impressive," Grennell said. "If you can take Diabetes II and turn it around for a person, you are really enhancing their quality of life."

While Janice King said the program did not come into her life soon enough to prevent her heart attack, King said she is not sure if she would still be alive if not for the program.

King said in 2016 she had a heart attack, but before then she had been exercising and trying to eat right.

"I'm so thankful I was in the program because it gave me the conditioning I needed to get through this," King said.

"Although my heart attack was not prevented, I can only imagine what it would have been like without the program. I feel great now."

Kim Watkins said the program was informative in teaching her more about eating right and exercising. But program leaders did not just teach, though, as participants were required to complete 150 minutes of exercise each week.

Watkins, who lost 35 pounds in the program, said her favorite healthy meal is now the smoothie she has for breakfast.

"We all were very supportive of each other," Watkins said. "The program was very motivational."

Gloria Washington Porter said her coach, Nicole Williams, would call her — even on vacation — to make sure she was eating right. Though Porter said Williams would let her enjoy the occasional junk food cheat, as long as it was in moderation.

"She was like an army drill sergeant, not a prison warden," Porter said, laughing. "If you eat a little piece of cake, it's

OK, just don't eat the whole cake."

Porter said she hated some of the exercises, but she was glad she stuck with the program. Porter said she set a goal to have her arms toned like Michelle Obama's.

"Didn't quite get there," she laughed. "But I tried. Even now, I have lost some inches. On Sunday at church, everyone was really able to see a difference in my clothes and that makes me feel good."

Cutting out fried food and sodas has made a difference for Queen Clark, she said. As a result, she ended up losing weight every week, totaling 26 pounds.

"I feel a lot better," Clark said. "Everybody needs to do it. I feel a whole lot healthier."

One man entered the program already in moderate shape as a sheriff's office deputy, but now Chris Groh said he is in much better shape.

While he enjoyed the exercising program, Groh said he really appreciated the nutritional elements.

"I've cut back on the portions I was eating, for sure," Groh said. "I try to stay away from junk food and make the right choices with what I eat. It's made a big difference."

The biggest losers were Scott Green and Dorothy Pearson, who each lost more than 70 pounds, said program coordinator Doris Woodfork.

Woodfork said the program was all about helping people learn to replace old bad habits with new habits.

"If you have uphill goals, but have downhill habits, you are not necessarily going to get where you are going," Woodfork said.

The program was a success, Woodfork said, and she hopes to get the all clear from the city to start up a new group for the grant-funded program in March.

The program is funded through the Humana Foundation. The foundation and the City of Natchez have partnered to implement in the city as part of the Clinton Health Matters Initiative's Blueprint for Action for Natchez and Adams County. CHMI is an initiative of the Clinton Foundation.

Demetric Felder, one of the coaches for the program, said this is only the beginning for the graduating group.

"The beautiful part about this, is you will have the memories to fuel the ×re, to keep it burning and persevere and continue," he said. "And it applies to other aspects of life — if you've got goals for business, your family, your church, you know how to do it.

"You have been in a grueling, painful situation, and everyone here now has an inner warrior you can always let out when you need to cultivate that person."