Charlice Noble-Jones hugs a friend after hearing that she had won a complete fitness franchise from Snap Fitness. Her application was selected from nearly 2000 others, company sources say.
ALBANY, Ga. — A fourth-grade teacher who survived the World Trade Center attacks and the loss of her husband to cancer has won a complete fitness franchise, provided by Snap Fitness 24/7.
Charlice Noble-Jones, 35, won the franchise, which includes a newly constructed building, equipment, site selection, initial rent and working capital, by submitting written reasons she wanted a Snap Fitness franchise and how she could make a success of one. Her submission was judged the best of nearly 2,000 entries, company sources said.
Noble-Jones was unaware of her win until mid-day on Tuesday, when teachers and students gathered in the gymnasium at Lamar Reese Magnet School on Lily Pond Road. In fact, in the midst of children parading in costumes with labels like “cheese,” “chicken” and “snacks,” only the principal knew that the assembly wasn’t for a program about nutrition and fitness.
“When I saw those two men in the blue shirts coming around the corner, I knew that had to be what it was,” Noble-Jones would say after the announcement. “I knew what Peter Taunton looked like.”
Taunton is the founder and CEO of Snap Fitness, based in Chanhassen, Minn. Beyond the obvious promotional benefits to the franchise award, Taunton said this first contest “works well to help a deserving person and to inspire others.”
“I’ve been blessed so much in life,” Taunton said, “and this is a good way for me to pay it forward. Only in America can this happen. It’s meant to be inspiring. I want these kids today to look at this and know that anything is possible.”
Noble-Jones had become active in personal fitness, she said, and stumbled onto Snap Fitness while surfing the Web. She researched the company and said the idea of owning a franchise — especially a free one — appealed to her. She jumped at the chance.
Noble-Jones wrote about her life and how she’d survived the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001.
“I worked in an office building across from the tower, and part of (the tower) fell on top of us,” she said. “I found myself alone and walking around on the street. Cell phones weren’t working, and I was worried about my family. We didn’t know if this was just in New York.”
Noble-Jones was called to “rebuild her life” for a second time, she said, when she lost her husband to pancreatic cancer. He was 32 years old.
In her application to Snap Fitness, she sought to give the “why” of her submission.
“My why is my 7-year-old son, Preston,” she said. “I pray daily for an opportunity and the strength to make a better life for us. My ‘why’ drives me to live my best life day after day when I could have broken and surrendered to adversities I’ve faced over the past 10 years of my life.”
According to Taunton, his company already has “some good ideas” about where to put the new business. He said that real estate specialists with Snap Fitness would work with Noble-Jones in selecting a spot and negotiating a lease.
Noble-Jones was “excited beyond belief,” she said.
“I’ve always felt that these problems I’ve had were a kind of preparation or experience for greater things to come,” she said. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”