Updated: Friday, 04 May 2012, 9:31 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 04 May 2012, 8:11 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Over the years, 24-Hour News 8 has brought you a number of stories about Mini Marathon runners who have overcome physical challenges and conquered the 13.1 miles to complete the race. But we've never brought you a story like this.
One Vigo County runner lost 460 pounds using only diet and exercise. And now, a much lighter man is tackling the Mini.
Ryan Daffer showed us pictures of himself from 2007. His smile belies the depth of his physical and emotional struggle. Daffer was depressed. At 735 pounds, he could no longer manage even simple tasks. He was forced to quit his job at Roche Diagnostics and move back in with mom and dad. Daffer was 29 years old.
"From about 22 to 29 is when I started to notice myself getting bigger," he recalled.
He said one day in 2007 he realized he'd have to make serious changes.
"That morning, I got up and didn't feel good - which was pretty much every day. I went and sat down, and I couldn't get up," he said.
His parents tried to help, but they couldn't get him up.
"So they called my stepbrother and his wife, and a friend of his. And between the five of them they got me up. That's when I looked and my mom and said, 'It's time,'" he said.
He agreed to go to a hospital. The news from his doctor was grim.
"He's like, 'I'll be honest,'" said Daffer, recalling the devastating conversation. "He's like, 'If you live past 72 hours I'll be surprised.'"
He did survive. And days later he left the hospital and checked into a rehabilitation facility, where he slowly regained his strength. There, he restricted his caloric intake to 1,200 a day. He lost 200 pounds in 90 days. His weight loss continued after he got out, but he knew he'd need help to stick to his routine. One day he decided to join his local YMCA.
"At that point, I'm about 510 or 520 pounds, and even then I'm still a big guy going into a fitness facility. But I knew I had to put myself into an environment where I at least had the opportunity to succeed," he said.
It took Daffer five years to lose 460 pounds. No surgery. No extraordinary measures. With only diet and exercise, he shed the equivalent of two grown men.
Last winter he began training for his first Mini Marathon. Completion of his first race was monumental, magical, miraculous. He marked the race with a kiss of the famed yard of bricks. And this year he'll do it again. It's a race symbolic of his journey - a journey made with the help of family, friends and faith.
"I'm just thankful. I'll be honest. God gave me a second chance," he said.
Daffer’s advice to others with lots to lose: Surround yourself with others who support your weight loss journey. For him, support was key.
And don't forget, WISH-TV is the only place to see the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon from the comfort of your own home. Make sure you tune in to Daybreak on Saturday morning, starting at 6 a.m. Our live Mini Marathon coverage starts at 7 a.m.