Dan Hawthorne returned to his alma mater South Hagerstown High School to ask a question: "How does a man get to 625 pounds?"
He is that man or at least he was.
"For two years, I sat on the couch and ate myself to death," says Hawthorne. "Food was my drug."
As a kid, he says: "The highlight of my paper route was stopping at Hall's corner store and getting my donut and my chocolate milk."
Fast food, the lack of sleep and the stress that came with adulthood eventually led him to balloon to 625 pounds.
"Getting from my house to my car took all the effort I had," Hawthorne says. "I was really at that point where I thought it was over. I really thought I was going to be pushing up daisies soon."
But he hit a turning point. He also got an email from the friend of a friend, Thomas Burge, a professor and coach at Hagerstown Community College. He told Burge he was walking with a cane and taking medication.
"You know what his reply was? There's nothing you said we can't fix," says Hawthorne.
Together, they worked. Hawthorne exercised sitting down at first because it was all he could manage. It took a lot of effort - both exercise and healthy eating, but eventually, Hawthorne made it down to 400 pounds.
His thinking at the time: "I like this. This feels good, man. Who needs cheeseburgers now?"
As of today, he has cut his weight in half down to 315 pounds. Hawthorne goes to the gym five to six times a week, and just like you, there are days when he doesn't feel like being there.
"Every day, the first thing I do is look in that mirror," he says. "And I might have those days when it's cold outside and it's dark and you don't want to do it, but you have to do it because I like breathing. I like feeling good. I like looking better. That's all the motivation I need."
He says Burge saved his life. Burge doesn't see it quite like that, but says it is gratifying.
"I think it feels good for me because of what it's doing for him," says Burge.
The students at Hawthorne's alma mater definitely reacted.
"I thought it was super inspirational," says sophomore Brandon Decker. "It reminds me of my little sister because right now she's 130 [pounds] and I'm only 126. She's 11 years old. That's really a big eye-opener for me and her. I'm going to tell her, ‘Me and you are going to do this together."'
At his lowest point, Hawthorne thought he had no purpose. Now, he's addicted to helping others.
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