Thomas, a talented artist, Priority Health Champion and a contributing member of his community, always knew what he wanted to be as an adult. When people would ask he'd always say, "an artist."
But when it came time to choose a college major, he decided to pursue a degree in criminal justice. This decision made sense at the time since he came from a law enforcement family. But there was one problem: criminal justice didn’t interest him the same way art always had. Thomas eventually decided to follow his heart and pursue a career as an artist, and he hasn't looked back. His art is known by some as still-life, tabletop or staged, and consists of images taken from one medium and inserted into another.
Thomas' artwork has been featured in publications worldwide including the New York Times, Vanity Fair, National Geographic and the Wall Street Journal. Take a look through some of his artwork on his website, thomasallenonline.com.
Since Thomas is a self-employed artist, he doesn't receive health insurance from an employer and instead shops for his own plan. He had to purchase an individual plan that provides him and his family with high-quality, affordable health care.
While his health plan helped him get in shape, Thomas hasn't always been as healthy as he is now. In 2014, he was at his heaviest weight and struggling with his asthma diagnosis. That's when he decided to take full advantage of his health insurance benefits, start making healthier choices and became a Team Priority Health Champion.
Because of Thomas’s work as a freelance artist and photographer, he spends much of his time sitting. After years of a sedentary lifestyle, he found himself in the worst shape of his life. He got to the point where just climbing the stairs in his house left him winded. A CT scan revealed that years of a poor diet had taken their toll on his body.
”The wellness benefits for being that I've received, both as a Priority Health member and champion, encouraged me to give back and become more active in the running community. Last year I volunteered with PH at the Detroit Free Press Marathon wellness expo. This year, I volunteered with Priority Health at the Borgess Run expo in Kalamazoo. This fall I am helping my running club with a local 5k.”
In just a few short years, with the help of Priority Health Champions, and benefits of his health plan, Thomas has come full circle. He's lost 30 pounds and managing his asthma without medication. In 2015, he ran 102 miles and in 2016 he ran 856. This year, he’s on pace to complete over 1,000 miles.
Thomas has participated in multiple 5K races. And since he’s been so successful in his own fitness journey, Thomas decided to give back by helping others do the same. He is a member of Southwest Michigan Racers, a running club that has helped him stay on track with his fitness.
If you’ve just found a new passion for running or are looking for a way to get started, joining the Team Priority Health Champions program may be for you. It is a close knit group of people focused on getting and staying healthy while inspiring others to follow suit. This program is open to every unique individual who has a passion to stay active and be healthy. Champions come together to compete in events statewide and share insights on how they live a healthy lifestyle. To learn more about the Team Priority Health community, visit teampriorityhealth.com.