Spartanburg one of five U.S. cities on 'Way to Wellville' - FOX Carolina 21

Spartanburg one of five U.S. cities on 'Way to Wellville'

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The Spartanburg Rail Trail helped the city earn a spot in "The Way to Wellville" challenge. (FOX Carolina: 8/14/2014) The Spartanburg Rail Trail helped the city earn a spot in "The Way to Wellville" challenge. (FOX Carolina: 8/14/2014)
SPARTANBURG, SC (FOX Carolina) -

The city of Spartanburg is working on its healthy habits - and now it has a national company backing its efforts.

Spartanburg is one of five cities in the nation picked to participate in "The Way to Wellville" five-year health challenge.

It beat out more than 40 others to take part in the challenge.

The company behind Wellville, Health Initiative Coordinating Council or HICCup, said it chose "extraordinary communities" to participate in the challenge.

When she saw the application for the program, Kathy Dunleavy, the president and CEO of the Mary Black Foundation, knew it would be the right fit for Spartanburg.

"What Wellville is going to provide us is partners throughout the country... to help us with data, investment strategies... and possible funding partners so that we can take this to a whole new level," Dunleavy said.

The goal is to improve the city in four areas: Access to care, obesity, kindergarten readiness, and community pride.

Health initiatives in Spartanburg like the Iron Yard and the Rail Trail helped attract HICCup to the area.

HICCup CEO Rick Brush said the working relationship between the city, the health system and other community partners sealed the deal for Spartanburg.

"We could tell right away that this is a group that is working extremely well together and that we have a lot of confidence that we could achieve great things over the next five years in creating a healthier community," said Brush.

Dunleavy is up for the challenge.

"A lot of eyes are going to be on us for the next five years, and we are extremely excited about that. And we will make Spartanburg very proud," said Dunleavy.

The cities chosen all have a population of less than 100,000 people. They are: Clatsop County, OR, Greater Muskegon, MI, Lake County, CA, and Niagara Falls, NY.

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