The Self-Advocacy and Empowerment class was fortunate enough to get a visit with a man who has a very big heart on Thursday, July 23, 2020. We welcomed David Elmore Smith to the class who appeared on the Dr. Phil Show in February, and his episode was repeated this past month for a fresh audience!

About thirteen years ago, David said “enough was enough” after having been morbidly obese for most of his life when his only comfort was food. David worked with a personal trainer to shed 400 pounds and at the time it was one of the largest natural weight losses that had ever been recorded! David became a national celebrity due to his weight loss and was featured on shows such as Oprah and the Today Show. Unfortunately, the pressures of keeping up appearances and not dealing with the emotional anguish took its toll as David began regressing into old habits to ultimately regain the 400 pounds he lost.

David was befriended back in February 2014 by Jesse Saperstein who serves as our Media and Activities Liaison for the College Experience because he was inspired by David’s turbulent story. This past January, Jesse successfully pitched the Dr. Phil Show in order to help David find the resources to rebuild his life and chip away at the massive weight gain. David is an example of how winning once could just be a fluke. But winning twice proves you are a champion.” He has lost nearly one hundred pounds since the taping of the Dr. Phil Show!

David spoke about the relentless bullying that he received. He also stayed in his house for a year after his mother died before getting past his agoraphobia and chipping away at the weight loss. David admitted he was very uncomfortable with all of the attention he was getting from being good looking when he felt “ugly” inside. Now, as he goes through this journey all over again, David is receiving support from the Dr. Phil Show’s head trainer, Robert Reames and mental health services.

The College Experience and Living Resources are proud of David for this ongoing journey to reclaim his life. The emphasis of David’s weight loss journey is not to try to become perfect, but to become physically and mentally healthy. He is the target of many bullies on the Internet, and David emphasizes that we cannot win an argument with a stranger on the Internet who “does not know the whole story.” Like a Phoenix…David is the kind of person who will seize his life back, and we thank him for the wisdom that was dispensed to the students.