STOW, OH (WOIO) - Six days a week and for four miles a day, you'll see Mark Learner walking the streets of Stow near Graham Road holding onto a wheelchair that's half the size of the one he used to sit in when he weighed 840 pounds.
"It was horrible. I couldn't do anything for myself. I couldn't bathe myself. I couldn't walk. I couldn't get around," said Learner.
Learner has now lost 500 pounds. He doesn't have a picture to show anyone of what he used to look like because no one was allowed to take a picture of him back then.
"I was too ashamed. I was too embarrassed," said Learner, "I was severely teased, laughed at, made fun of."
The big turning point that got him up and walking? Some tough talk from a doctor.
"'You're going to be dead in six months.' I said. 'That's totally unacceptable.' He said, 'that may be unacceptable, but you are going to die,'" said Learner.
So Learner changed the way he ate, started to exercise and had bariatric surgery.
How did it ever get that bad for a man who used to be athletic?
Learner says medication he was taking for a heart condition started his weight gain.
Today, he's trying to stay in his best shape so that he can get the surgery he says he needs to remove several pounds of loose skin that his clothes cover up.
Learner says he needs about a thousand dollars to cover his expenses traveling to a hospital in Pennsylvania for the skin removal procedure.
"The extra skin is a real problem. It's hard for me to move. It is very painful to move, but I have to move," said Learner.
Until he can get the extra skin removed, Learner walks and inspires so many of the people who see him out walking every day.
LaDoris Roberts-Chappell says Learner inspired her to lose close to 90 pounds.
"To see him moving like this, it encourages anyone who is having a hard time with weight loss," said Roberts-Chappell.
Every step brings Learner closer to his ultimate goal of being 260 pounds and getting his life back.
"Whatever it takes, I'm going to do it!" added Learner.
If you would like to help Learner with his travel expenses for skin removal surgery, you can mail a donation to:
3000 Graham Road, Apartment 107
Stow, OH 44224