(ATLANTA) — Atlanta Councilman H. Lamar Willis weighed more than 327 pounds a year ago. He has since managed to lose more than 100 pounds and isn’t going to stop there.
To ring in the New Year, Willis, 41, has asked Atlanta residents to join him in his own personal 100-mile challenge. He hopes to run throughout the city and log 100 miles during 2013, with other residents running alongside him.
“This isn’t just about me,” Willis told ABC News. “It’s about me partnering with people who do this every day.”
The 100-mile number is significant to Willis, celebrating his 100-pound loss.
“I was just going to run 100 miles across the city for myself but then as I shared my idea with friends, they began to offer to sponsor the miles,” he said.
The lifelong Atlantan said some people have sponsored him for up to $1,000 a mile.
“It would be great if we could raise $1,000 dollars per mile,” said Willis, who’s down to about 223 pounds. “That would be raising $100,000 for a great cause.”
The proceeds would likely go to health-related charities in the area, he added.
Willis said he tried to buy a life insurance policy last year but was turned down because of his obesity. Once reality set in, the councilman said he knew that he needed to begin to take action for the sake of his 13-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son. That’s when he took to the streets and started walking, shedding the weight simply by exercising and watching what he eats.
“I didn’t go on any fad diet or cut out any of the things I really liked to eat. I just cut back. I still eat what I want to eat, just in moderation,” Willis said. “If I cut out too much, I know that I would be back at that point again.”
Willis hopes to promote his running challenge by pairing with running clubs, senior groups who go on walks and other organizations to get the community involved.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Tal Kopan and Jeremy Diamond, CNN
Emily Fonnesbeck, KSL.com
Virginia Anderson, Kaiser Health News
Rachel Sande, EastIdahoNews.com