05/18/04 — Man walks to draw attention to obesity

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Man walks to draw attention to obesity

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on May 18, 2004 1:58 PM

Some people might think it's crazy to walk 1,200 miles, but Gary Marino undertook the "million calorie march" to stop the madness of obesity.

"This walk was my idea," he said. "I spent more than 20 years battling weight, but three years ago I decided to fix myself."

Marino, a former food addict whose weight topped 397 pounds just three years ago, is using his 130-pound weight loss to bring awareness to the issue of obesity.

"We need a campaign for obesity like the anti-tobacco campaign," he said.

His cross-country walk started last month in Jacksonville, Fla., and will end in Boston in July.

Walking 15 to 20 miles a day, Marino is backed up by a support team traveling in a mobile home. He has stopped at health and weight-loss centers, media outlets, schools and corporations.

His route took him through Goldsboro on Monday.

"Up until we hit North Carolina we hadn't encountered anything but flatland, but now I'm hitting several hills everyday," he said.

The 90-degree weather has also posed some additional problems for him, as evidenced in his journal.

"Chafing," he writes. "Gold's Bond Powder, anyone?"

"Some families have wanted to meet one-on-one to discuss weight problems," Marion said. "We're concentrating on long-term weight loss."

He said that Americans were more interested in short-term fixes, but they usually fail.

"Learn about nutrition, self-analyze and be vigilant," he said.

From the time he was 11, he said, he had a strong desire to overeat. After years of being overweight, he decided to go to a nutritionist.

He learned that there were several things keeping him heavy, including bad eating habits, a sedentary lifestyle and heredity.

Once he lost the weight, he became committed to raising awareness of the obesity problem in America.

Primary funding for the march is through corporate sponsorships, private donations and "per calorie" pledges.

Perhaps the oddest thing that happened to him was in South Carolina, while he was eating dinner at a restaurant.

Marino said the wait staff came out with an issue of People Magazine. There was an article about Marino and the million calorie march in the magazine, and the staff wanted his autograph.

"I couldn't believe that. It was completely bizarre," he said. "I'm no celebrity. I'm just 'every man.'"

Marino went ahead and signed the picture, but couldn't believe it when they put his picture on the wall.