Thousands turned out in Kansas City, Missouri Saturday for the “Big-12” 5K run. But one participant may have had a little more to prove than your average runner.
Derek Mitchell weighs well over 500 pounds. But he participated in — and finished — the race because he says he is on a path to a better life.
“I just knew that things had to change if i was going to have any kind of you know hope for a future,” Mitchell said.
Five years ago, 34-year-old Derek Mitchell was diagnosed with a benign tumor on his pituitary gland, which contributed to his 625-pound size. A new year’s resolution to stop drinking soda has spiraled into a quest to change his life.
Starting with just walking around his neighborhood, Mitchell, who now weighs 570 pounds, logs his exercise on social media and got quite a response from his friends.
“If I can walk a 5K anybody can, and I’m living proof of that now,” Mitchell said.
Jim Moody was at the finish line, as part of team red, white and blue, which connects veterans to the community through social and physical activities.
“So here comes along Derek, and he was at that finish line, but he just needed a little more help, you could tell he was almost there,” Moody said.
“That’s why I was so excited to see Jim come along, the guy in the red shirt, because he was like, alright, finish strong,” Mitchell said.
“I figured why not, and I ran out there and as soon as I got to him, I said, ‘let’s go,’ and his face lit up, I said, ‘let’s get this, come on, let’s go’.”
“So I booked it, laugh, as fast as I could,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell listens to music while he exercises, to distract him from the pain. With Moody cheering him on, he received some additional inspiration.
“I think it’s called ‘Gonna Fly Now’ from the movie ‘Rocky,’ where he is running up the stairs, you know, that started playing while I was approaching the finish line, and wanted to cross the finish line with my hands in the air, because that’s how it felt! It was pretty awesome,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell says his first 5K took him an hour-and-a-half to finish. He hopes to run nine more this year– and knock five minutes off his time in each race.