In 2009, Linda initiated Shape Up Vicksburg, a campaign to help residents of Vicksburg, Mississippi, lose weight after Mississippi was deemed the “fattest state in the nation” for the sixth consecutive year. Shape Up Vicksburg resulted in the collective weight loss of more than 15,000 pounds among participants. For her persistent efforts and the impact on her community, Linda was chosen as a Top Ten CNN Hero of the Year for 2010. She was also selected, among distinguished leaders such as First Lady Michelle Obama, as one of The Grio’s 100 History Makers in the Making and was named 2011 Woman of the Year for the City of Vicksburg.  In 2017 she received a Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the State of Mississippi and the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service.


Linda Fondren is one of 11 children born into poverty to a single mother in the “poorest and fattest” state in America. Her past, with all its blemishes and complications, helped pave the way for the path she eventually found with Shape Up Sisters! She is 62 years old, a mother, a grandmother and loving wife of 32 years.


My mission took hold after the death of my sister.  I developed a strong desire to give obese and overweight women a chance at a better quality of life by helping them become more active and lose weight.  The desire to help women lead to the desire to improve the health, well-being, and quality of life of a wider population; pursue sustainable opportunities for physical activities; educate the public about proper nutrition, reduction, and avoidance of obesity, especially those who lack the resources to achieve a healthy lifestyle


When communities come together and nourish social interaction and inclusion, and everyone is thinking about the health of their community and trying to figure out what role they can play, the result can be electrifying.
(Read Linda’s List for Shaping Up America)


View photos from Shape Up Vicksburg events and see the work Linda Fondren has been doing in her community.