LIVINGSTON, Mont. (AP) — As people across the United States struggle to stick to their New Year's Resolutions, an 11-year-old Montana boy is offering lessons in self-discipline and delayed gratification after winning a $500 prize from his parents for skipping sugary drinks for a year.
A year ago at Christmas time, Jon Sarisky's parents offered the then-10-year-old and his older brother Andrew a choice — a guaranteed $100 then or $500 in a year if they avoid all pop, milkshakes, hot chocolate and other sugary beverages.
Andrew took the sure thing. Jon, a sixth-grader, took the challenge. He drank his last pop on Jan. 3, 2014 — a Fanta Orange that he savored.
"I didn't brush my teeth until I couldn't taste it anymore," he told the Livingston Enterprise (http://bit.ly/1xAMjLv).
The "No Pop Challenge" was a zero-tolerance agreement with no second chances and noted that: "Attempts to circumvent the spirit of this agreement are fraudulent and strictly prohibited."
Jon said the challenge wasn't that difficult, with the exception of remembering not to accept a pop at a friend's house.
When the family dined out, he had to remember to order water to drink. Milk also was allowed.
Sugary beverages were not a major problem in the household, but Renee Shifley of Livingston said the family wanted to offer a big challenge to demonstrate how self-discipline and delayed gratification can offer big rewards. She said meeting the challenge has helped her son's self-confidence.
"He's kind of grown up from the whole process," she said.
Jon said he's not sure yet what he'll do with the money.
"I could buy 500 pops," he quipped.
Jon's mom says he's very responsible and likes to save his money, and that's why the challenge offered such a big prize.
Jon will have the opportunity to pop open a cold one on Sunday.
"I might have just one pop, but I'm not going to overdo it," he stated, adding that pop might just become something that's "OK for a splurge now and then."
Jon had some advice for other kids if they found themselves facing a similar challenge.
"I would tell them to keep trying and think about the money they could spend on whatever they wanted," he said.
Jon said that the big prize made all the effort worth it.
"If it was just $100, I don't think I would have done it," he said. "The price was right."