Better known as TOPS, the nonprofit support group has thousands of chapters in North America, including at 11 in the Buffalo region.
Its more than 100,000 members lost a combined 242.5 tons last year using a “Real People, Real Weight Loss” philosophy that blends support from fellow chapter members during weekly meetings, healthy eating, regular exercise and wellness education.
Membership costs $32 a year in the U.S. and monthly dues no more than $5.
Quarles, 58, who lives in the University District, is one of four “International Royalty” members prominently featured in the fall issue of TOPS News magazine. She was named New York State queen and international queen runner-up, receiving a sash, crown and plaque for losing 199.5 pounds between the time she joined TOPS and weighed in last year at 200 pounds.
International Queen Patricia Markby, of Victorville, Calif., lost 215.5 pounds, International King Danny Labowski, of Midland, Texas, dropped 203.4; and Runner-up to King Jay Carter, of Sauget, Ill., lost 174.8.
“We all have the ability to lose the weight,” Quarles said. “The top and bottom line is you have to want to. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you. It wasn’t something that came on overnight, so it’s gonna take time to take it off.”
The honor humbled Quarles, one of five children of Mary Jean Quarles, a role model for her youngest daughter. Her mother worked nursing jobs at two city hospitals and was a “community organizer” long before the term became popular. She, like many others in the family, also was overweight. She died from congestive heart failure in 1988 while in her early 60s.