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Steely Resolution: Montana Kid Receives $500 for Successfully Giving Up Sugary Drinks for a Year

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Many people have a hard time sticking to their New Year's Resolutions, but an 11-year-old boy from Montana successfully stuck to his and got a reward for his self-discipline and delayed gratification.

Jonathan Sarisky's parents and stepfather gave him and his older brother Andrew an offer at Christmas time in 2013. The boys could either have $100 that they can receive by then or opt for a $500 payout that they can accept much later provided they adhere to one condition: avoid all types of sugary beverages for the whole year.

The challenge, which the family called the no-pop challenge, included a ban not just on soda, but also on sports drinks, hot chocolate, sugary flavored waters and fruit juices, including those marketed as 100 percent fruit juice and milkshakes. This left water and unflavored milk as the only beverage options.

Andrew chose to receive the $100. Jonathan, who studies at Livingston's Sleeping Giant Middle School, on the other hand, took the challenge and had his last soda on Jan. 3. He related that he savored the beverage, a Fanta Orange, aware that it would be his last sip of a soda for a long time. He did not even brush his teeth just to savor the taste of the drink.

The next day, Jan. 4, Jonathan signed the contract the adults prepared for him. The contract stipulated a zero-tolerance agreement that would have Jonathan forfeit his chances of claiming his prize if he violates what had been agreed on. It, however, gives him the freedom to choose how to spend the $500 prize.

Adhering to the challenge may seem hard, particularly for kids, but with his eyes set on what's at stake, the boy said that the challenge was not very difficult. He just had to avoid accepting a pop offered to him at a friend's house.

"People would just forget and offer it to me," Jonathan said.

Renee Shifley, Jonathan's mother, said that sugary beverages were not actually a big problem in their household, but the family offered the challenge to show the kids how self-discipline and delayed gratification could mean great rewards.

Finally, Jonathan's family proclaimed that he successfully met the year-long challenge. They awarded him the $500 prize and even prepared for him a ceremonial check similar to those given to lottery winners.

Jonathan said that the prize was worth giving up sugary drinks for the whole year.

"If it was just $100, I don't think I would have done it," Jonathan said. "The price was right."

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