Category Archives: Health

NYT article focuses on Port Orchard man

Several people on Facebook have mentioned a New York Times article about Doug Whitney, a Port Orchard man who has a gene mutation that (in most people) causes early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Whitney, 65, has yet to show symptoms, and researchers are trying to figure out why.

Whitney’s mother and nine of her siblings, as well as Whitney’s older brother died of the disease. All began showing symptoms in their 40s.

“So Mr. Whitney has become Exhibit A in a new direction in genetics research. After years of looking for mutations that cause diseases, investigators are now searching for those that prevent them,” the article states.

The idea of beneficial gene mutations is getting plenty of attention from the scientific community.

Two Seattle researchers have started “The Resilience Project,” drawing on large databases to find people, like Whitney, who seem to have protective genes. They found Whitney after contacting Washington University (in St. Louis), where a study is under way of families with a gene, presenilin, that causes early Alzheimer’s. Whitney joined the study in 2011.

Whitney deferred getting tested for the Alzheimer’s causing gene until he turned 62. Other researchers have contacted him, as well, and Whitney, for his part, is happy to contribute to advancing knowledge of Alzheimer’s, the article states.

So, question for readers: If, based on the medical history of family members, you knew you might have a disease-causing genetic mutation, would you get tested and when?

Strategic plan, timeline set for mental-health tax

Up to $3 million from the local mental-health tax will be doled out July 1.

A sales tax of 0.1 percent dedicated for local mental-health services went into effect Jan. 1 after being approved by Kitsap County commissioners in September.

The July deadline is just one of several in the recently released strategic plan from the Kitsap County Behavioral Health Strategic Planning Team. Proposals for projects or programs, aimed at reducing the number of mentally ill juveniles and adults cycle through the criminal justice system and the demand on emergency services, will be accepted from Feb. 20 to April 18 at 3 p.m. Kitsap County County Mental Health, Chemical Dependence and Therapeutic Court Citizens Advisory Board will review the proposals.

The citizens advisory board also is asking for community input on what residents what to see funded by the sales tax via an online survey.

In the 62-page strategic plan, which outlines recommendations for closing service gaps for mentally ill and substance abuse, it says county and surrounding peninsula region had the highest number of mentally ill boarded ever recorded in October 2013.

The plan recommends increasing housing and transportation options, treatment funding and outreach, among other suggestions.


Reporting and responsibilities outlined

The strategic planning team makes recommendations the citizens advisory board and establishes the strategic plan for the mental health tax.

Proposals will be submitted to the citizens advisory board for review. The board will make recommendations for the proposals and funding level to the county commissioners, who ultimately approve the proposals.

The citizen advisory board will annually review projects and programs while receiving input from the strategic team, and report to the director of Kitsap County Human Services, who will present reviews to the county commissioners.


 Meet the team and board

Kitsap County Behavioral Health Strategic Planning Team

  • Al Townsend, Poulsbo Police Chief (Team Co-Chair)
  • Barb Malich, Peninsula Community Health Services
  • Greg Lynch, Olympic Educational Service District 114
  • Joe Roszak, Kitsap Mental Health Services
  • Judge Anna Laurie, Superior Court (Team Co-Chair)
  • Judge Jay Roof, Superior Court
  • Judge James Docter, Bremerton Municipal Court
  • Kurt Wiest, Bremerton Housing Authority
  • Larry Eyer, Kitsap Community Resources
  • Michael Merringer, Kitsap County Juvenile Services
  • Myra Coldius, National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • Ned Newlin, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office
  • Robin O’Grady, Westsound Treatment Agency
  • Russell D. Hauge, Kitsap County Prosecutor
  • Scott Bosch Harrison, Medical Center
  • Scott Lindquist, MD, MPH Kitsap Public Health
  • Tony Caldwell, Housing Kitsap


Kitsap County Mental Health, Chemical Dependence and Therapeutic Court Citizens Advisory Board

  • Lois Hoell, Peninsula Regional Support Network: 3 year term
  • Jeannie Screws, Kitsap County Substance Abuse Advisory Board: 3 year
  • Aimee DeVaughn, Kitsap County Commission on Children and Youth: 3 year
  • Connie Wurm, Area Agency on Aging: 3 year
  • Dave Shurick, Law and Justice: 1 year
  • Walt Bigby, Education: 1 year
  • Carl Olson, At Large Member District 2: 2 year
  • James Pond, At Large Member District 3: 2 year
  • Robert Parker, At Large Member District 2: 2 year
  • Russell Hartman, At Large Member District 3: 2 year
  • Richard Daniels, At Large Member District 1: 1 year

Your opinion on new EpiPen law?

We’ve written a lot this week about a new law allowing epinephrine autoinjectors for general use in schools.

Students known to be prone to severe allergic reactions, or anaphylaxis, have been able to bring one of the devices (one brand name is EpiPen) to school. The new law allows districts to maintain a stock of autoinjectors not assigned to individual students for use on playgrounds, buses and field trips, and for undiagnosed students having a first-time reaction.

Doing so is option for school districts. But those who choose to stock EpiPens should also train and authorize nonmedical staff, like bus drivers and playground attendants, to administer them to students in an emergency, the state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction said this week. OSPI’s report, which came out Wednesday, offers guidelines and recommendations, not requirements and edicts. But local districts are looking to state officials for guidance.

If you have a child with a severe food or other allergy, or if you work at a school, we invite you to take a poll at homepage about whether you think staff members other than school nurses should be trained to give epinephrine injections.

OSPI Epinephrine Recommendations

Poulsbo man ready to roll after beating cancer

Posted by reporter Ed Friedrich:

Dan Ackerson’s blood saved Mike Myers’ life.
Doctors told Myers he had a 5 percent chance to live after three types of chemotherapy barely fazed his acute myeloid leukemia, diagnosed Nov. 11, 2010. The cancer is characterized by the rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells that accumulate in the bone marrow and interfere with the production of normal blood cells.
Myers never flinched.
“I told them that doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “That’s just a percentage. That means I’ve got a 5 percent chance of living, and I’m going to be in that 5 percent. They believed me. Now they believe me a lot.”
Bone marrow transplants are a last gasp. A patient undergoes chemotherapy and radiation to destroy the bad cells. In a healthy body, bone marrow makes young cells called stem cells. A donor’s are injected into the patient’s blood stream and grow and develop in the bone marrow. From the transplanted cells, the body resumes producing blood cells and develops an immune system.
It generally takes several months to find a good donor.
“They were hoping I’d make it into October so I could actually get the bone marrow transplant. I was really weak,” said Myers, who had dwindled from 190 to 130 pounds.
Myers, of Poulsbo, entered Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s unrelated donor search program. Ackerson, a Navy doctor, had signed up years earlier for the Department of Defense bone marrow registry. Within five weeks, they were matched.
“Typically this is a last-resort type thing,” said Ackerson, who flew from an assignment in Germany to the East Coast for the procedure.
“He probably would not be alive if he had not found a match, not that I’m the only match.”
Myers got the transplant on Oct. 7, 2011. He continued to receive “chemo lite” until a few weeks ago. Healthy cells replaced cancerous ones. He slowly began to gain weight. In October 2012, doctors declared him clear of his disease. Formerly with O-positive blood, he now was fully flowing Ackerson’s A-plus type. Six weeks ago, a biopsy showed no sign of disease and he was taken off chemotherapy. On Nov. 14 he enjoyed his first normal blood test in three years, and was released to go places other than a hospital or clinic.
The men have never met. They’re not allowed to exchange contacts until a year after the transplant. There are similarities. Myers, 54, served 21 1/2 years in the Navy, all but one of them in the Kitsap area. He was a fire control technician on submarines. Ackerson, 50, is a Navy family practice doctor, now in Jacksonville, Fla. Both are family men. Myers has a wife Debbie and two grown children.
They look forward to getting together, though Myers can’t travel long distances yet. They keep in touch by phone and computer.
“He’s got a very positive outlook and sounds like he’s doing quite well,” Ackerson said. “If he’s doing as well as he says he is, I think he’ll be just fine.”
Myers is grateful, and told his donor that at Thanksgiving.
“He is basically trusting me with his DNA,” he said. “My blood is his. It’s identical to his blood.”
Myers wants to stay close with Ackerson and spend some time together.
Ackerson urges others to get registered. He had to go in for a few shots to stimulate the marrow to create more stem cells, then wait eight hours while it’s filtered.
“A lot of people should do this,” he said. “The larger the number of people you have in the program, the higher likelihood you’ll find a match for somebody who needs it. I just think it’s a good thing to help our fellow man.”
Myers, up to 162 pounds, wants to return soon to his job with Electric Boat as a configuration manager for Trident submarines.

Update on Kitsap County Coroner’s crib for kids program

Brynn writes:

At the end of July I wrote about Kitsap County Coroner Greg Sandstrom and his involvement in a national program targeting families that need a safe place for their children to sleep.

At the time Sandstrom had five Graco Pack ‘n Play portable cribs to give away. Shortly after my article was published all the cribs were spoken for, but the list of people needing the portable cribs was growing. It wasn’t long after the article ran that Sandstrom was contacted by the national nonprofit organization Cribs for Kids — the agency he partnered with to help combat the high number of accidental baby deaths — who let him know if he could raise $2,500 from the community the organization would match that amount and send him more cribs.

Last week Sandstrom sent me an email saying he’d met the financial match thanks to generous donations from the community. That means 75 more cribs are headed to Kitsap County for low-income families that otherwise do not have a safe place for their babies to sleep. If a family is given a crib they also receive education about the American Academy of Pediatrics’ safe sleep guidelines for infants that include always placing a baby on its back to sleep and keeping things like blankets, pillows and toys out of the crib to reduce a baby’s chance of suffocation.

Sandstrom credits donations from individuals, the East Bremerton Kiwanis Club, Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue, Bremerton fire fighters and the Boilermakers Local 290 for helping reach the $2,500 goal.

“For several years now, our office has been providing public education to schools and the Navy, participated in high school mock crashes (which are sponsored by MADD) and instructed other agencies on the proper way in investigate infant deaths.  This gives us an opportunity to provide a tool along with the training that will aid in safe sleeping,” Sandstrom said in a news release.

Once the cribs arrive, Sandstrom will work with Kitsap Community Resources to identify families in need. KCR will distribute the cribs, he said.

Kitsap County Coroner needs more cribs

Brynn writes:
Last week I wrote about a program Kitsap County Coroner Greg Sandstrom is implementing locally that gives cribs to families in need of a safe place for their baby to sleep. Sandstrom is doing this as part of a national Cribs for Kids program that works with law enforcement and first responders to reduce the number of infant deaths from suffocation or other, unexplained reasons.So far Sandstrom is the only coroner in the Northwest to join the program.My story ran online July 31 and in the Aug. 1 print edition of the Kitsap Sun. At the time it was published, Sandstrom had five portable Graco Pack ‘n Play cribs to give to parents, or caregivers, who called and requested them.By 2:20 p.m. on Aug. 1 I received this email from Sandstrom:

Just as a follow-up, I had had several requests come in for the cribs, so I need to order more in a hurry!  (Not a bad problem to have.)  I also just found out that the headquarters for the “Cribs for Kids” Program will send me 100 cribs for $2,500.00, because of a matching grant they have. I didn’t know it would be too late to put that information out to your subscribers or not, but that comes to just $25.00 a crib!  It would be wonderful to provide that information to someone wanting to donate to this life saving need.

I assumed the story would appeal to parents who want their baby to have a safe place to sleep, but I didn’t think Sandstrom would see the cribs snatched up so fast. Sandstrom just started this program, so he hasn’t yet had a chance to appeal to the community to help raise the money needed to buy more cribs. He makes sure before buying them that they are safe and not on any recall lists. Sandstrom also provides educational information with the crib reminding parents about safe sleep environments for children, including placing infants and babies on their backs to sleep in a crib that hasn’t nothing else in it — no blankets, no stuffed animals, no toys, etc.
If you’re interested in donating money to help Sandstrom meet the $2,500 needed to buy 100 cribs from the national program, contact Sandstrom’s office at 360-337-7077.

Emergency responders urge water safety

South Kitsap Fire & Rescue emergency responders took advantage of warm weather Monday to practice water rescue on Long Lake.

The training was led by Firefighter Ed Seibolda certified Rapid Entry Rescue Swimmer. Crews practiced donning ice rescue suits and launching rapid deployment craft. The inflatable craft serve multiple purposes including rescue operations on Puget Sound (such as responding to a submerged vehicle), lake response, swift water or ice rescue situations.
“Having versatile and modular tools such as the rescue suits and RDC allows our crews the ability to gain rapid entry with minimal risk to the responders,” said SKFR spokesman Ron Powers

Crews competed for the best deployment time, which was about 2 minutes and 20 seconds, Powers said.

SKFR reminds people to practice water safety. The American Red Cross recommends swimming with a buddy, and having children and inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets. But but do not rely on life jackets alone, safety experts advise.

Life jacket loaner boards are located at Long Lake and Horseshoe Lake County Parks during the summer months.

Here are other tips from the Red Cross:
* Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
* Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and Learn-to-Swim courses or classes at your local pool.
* Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child. Teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
* Establish rules for your family and enforce them without fail. For example, set limits based on each person’s ability, do not let anyone play around drains and suction fittings.
* Do not allow swimmers to hyperventilate before swimming under water or have breath-holding contests.
* Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of water including ocean shoreline, rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.
* If you go boating, wear a life jacket. Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
* Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and swimming skills, and it reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.

Bill, back from the dead, thanks to Doreen

June 22 began like any workday for Bill Zimmerman of South Kitsap, owner of First Choice Construction. He got up at 5:30 a.m., showered quickly, dressed and headed out to pick up materials for a job he was doing for a neighbor.

Bill, 55, who does custom construction, is meticulous and driven, according to his girlfriend of 14 years, Doreen King, 57. He was particularly anxious that day to pick up a slab of granite that had been delayed in delivery. But as the slab was being transferred to Bill’s truck, it fell and shattered. Bill, his frustration mounting, waited two hours for a new slab to be cut and polished.

Later, Bill and his helper lifted the granite slab into place in the home under remodel. Suddenly, Bill began to feel lightheaded. He went home, calling it a day maybe just a shade earlier than usual. He sat down on the couch and told Doreen, “I have chest pain, and my arms hurt.”

He recalls telling her maybe he’d have to knock off lifting granite, leave it to the younger kids. He recalls thinking maybe he’d pulled a muscle in his chest. That granite was 300 pounds, after all. And that was all Bill remembers until five days later when he woke up in Harrison Medical Center’s intensive care unit.

Doreen, or Dee, as Bill calls her, is a Navy veteran and former reservist with a lengthy career in medical billing. While in the reserves, working at Naval Hospital Bremerton, she learned basic first aid and CPR, and she happened to have a blood pressure cuff in the home. She checked Bill’s vital signs and was alarmed at the numbers.

Dee was just about to say, “Let’s go to the hospital,” when Bill looked at her and said, “Oh, no.” His head dropped back, his eyes rolled, “his mouth contorted and his whole body seemed to be in a spasm,” Dee said.

She and her son, Pete, moved him to the floor, where Dee began CPR, as Bill was not breathing. Every time she stopped to check, Bill would take one large breath but no more, so she continued with compressions, as Pete called 911.

South Kitsap Fire & Rescue medics arrived within five minutes (4.5 by Doreen’s recollection). They “shocked” Bill three times and hustled him into an ambulance. On the way out the door, Dee was surprised to meet the EMS chaplain. “Were they expecting the worst?” she wondered.

In the emergency room, the pace of activity and urgency in the doctors’ and nurses’ voices told Doreen that Bill’s life “was hanging by a thread.” A cardiologist put a stent in a blood vessel that was completely blocked, and — miraculously, by his doctor’s account — Bill survived. The doctor credits Doreen’s effective CPR with the fact Bill did not suffer any brain damage.

Bill was sent to the intensive care unit, heavily sedated, and put on a ventilator, since he had inhaled body fluids during his ordeal. After five days of intensive respiratory therapy in the ICU, his lungs were clear enough for him to be woken up and taken off the ventilator.

Bill remembers almost nothing from the time the heart attack came on. One of the first things he said to Doreen was, “I have to finish that job.” Dee told him, “It will be there for you.”

Bill was blown away to hear about Dee’s role in his near death experience. “It brought tears to my eyes,” he said, “I think it’s strengthened my relationship with her. I know how much she truly loves me. It doesn’t come any better than this. She knows I love her, too, because I squeezed her hand in the hospital. That’s the first thing I told her when I was able, ‘I love you, and you saved my life.'”

Dee and Bill have played the lottery in the past. In the hospital, Dee thought about luck and what could have happened. She told Bill, “You know what? You hit the lotto, guy, you’re alive.”

Both are grateful to the SKFR paramedics, the staff of Harrison’s ER and ICU, and Bill’s cardiologist, Dr. David Tinker.

“He (Bill) was in the right place at the right time, with the right people, just the way God wanted it,” Dee said.

Three weeks after the heart attack, Bill was in the doctor’s office asking when he could go back to work.

“It’s hard for someone like me, who’s done this all his life to be sitting here,” he said. “It’s driving me crazy. On the other hand, I can’t be putting my life in jeopardy.”

Bill has quit smoking, replaced coffee with tea and can look forward to taking medications for the rest of his life. He has to take it easy — no lifting granite slabs, at least until he gets the doctor’s OK. But there’s no doubt he’s making a remarkable recovery.

There’s another problem, however. While Bill was in the hospital, someone stole his tools out of his truck. Because of his sudden illness, the truck wasn’t secured and it was parked just off his property, so homeowner’s insurance won’t cover the tools. Nor will Bill’s auto policy. Replacing them would cost about $3,000.

To make matters worse, Dee, was laid off from her last position with the Veteran’s Benefit Administration and is seeking work in a crowded job market. But in between worrying about getting through each day, the couple has been able to put things in perspective.

Bill’s relatively smooth recovery since his release from the intensive care unit has give the whole episode a surreal sheen, Dee said. It almost seems like it never happened. But then, she’ll look outside at the lawn and wonder how things would be if Bill weren’t here to mow the grass, little things like that.

“You don’t take it for granted that he’s sitting there,” Dee said. “Every day counts. Now it’s much more meaningful.”

For information on CPR classes, contact your local fire department. In South Kitsap, visit, South Kitsap Fire & Rescue’s website (, or call (360) 871-2411.

The Home Builders Association of Kitsap County will offer a CPR class at 10 a.m. Sept. 8 at the HBA office, 5251 Auto Center Way in Bremerton. Those who complete the training will be certified for two years under the Washington State Industrial Safety & Health Act, which requires a “person holding a valid certificate of First Aid Training be present or available at all work sites.” The fee is $50 for HBA members; $60 for nonmembers. Register online at

A donation account to help cover medical expenses and tool replacement has been set up for William Zimmerman at Kitsap Credit Union.

P.S. Note to readers: Yes, I do notice the less-than-subtle product placement in this photo submitted by Dee. I guess I could have cropped it out, but given what these two have been through, I let it stand. And in the interest of full disclosure, I know Doreen from when her son and my son were friends in elementary school in the 1990s. I thought the story had merit in that it’s a pretty dramatic account of CPR in action. — Chris Henry, reporter

Cross-country rider reaches Iowa

A year ago Tracy Delp was at the end of her rope, or so it seemed. The 47-year-old Port Orchard woman had pledged to ride horseback across the country to raise awareness and funding for cancer, which had claimed her mother and others she loved, including animals. She and her riding partner Dan Shanafelt set out from the Pacific Coast on their Coast2Coast for Cancer ride on Mother’s Day 2011, but somewhere near the border between Washington and Idaho, Dan had a change of heart and turned back.

The last time I wrote about Delp, she had trailered her team of horses (and one mule) back to Washington to regroup, blindly determined not to abandon her goal.

Today, lo and behold, there comes in a Google alert news that Delp made it to Iowa, more than halfway to her destination: Delaware’s shoreline. Now riding with a trimmed down team of one woman, one horse and a plucky dog named Ursa, Delp has improvised daily and leaned heavily on the kindness of strangers to leapfrog team and trailer across the Western and Central United States.

“I’ve done it every which way to Sunday,” she said. “I’ve handed my keys to complete strangers.”

The Rocky Mountains were her first big challenge. Delp set out late last fall (almost winter really), hurrying from the point she left off to make the crossing.

“I was told there is no way. People told me I was crazy,” she said.

It wouldn’t have been the first time.

Delp and company took 10 days to get through the mountains. “The next day, it snowed like a banshee,” she said.

Delp returned home shortly before Thanksgiving to wait out the winter and resumed her journey again in mid-April. Wouldn’t you know she picked a summer of record-setting heat and drought?

Her MO has been to start near dawn and knock off around noon. Innovation, animal instinct and sheer luck have all been required to keep the team from overheating. Ursa, it turns out can find water where there appears to be none.

“You play the beat-the-heat game. Some days you win. Some days you lose,” she said.

The heat bred crazy lightning and thunderstorms.

Delp has gotten so used to being outdoors that she almost feels claustrophobic inside a building. She’s gained a fine appreciation for the sheer size of this country and just how much of it is empty, or rather open landscape.

“There’s a whole lot of nowhere,” Delp said. “My idea of nowhere is a lot different than it used to be.”

Obstacles large and small present themselves daily, not if but when. Most recently the horse, Sierra, stepped on her cell phone. It still worked, but then she got caught in a rainstorm. Water leaked through the cracks and killed the faithful device, which had to be replaced.

Somehow, money for supplies, gas to the next town, a place to stay fall into Delp’s lap just when she needs them. Some of the funding for the trip comes from her website, which allows donors to choose whether they want to give to partner organizations, one that raises money for animals with cancer, one for people. Another option is to sponsor supplies and other costs of the ride.

Last August, Delp was in the running for a $25,000 Pepsi Refresh grant. The corporate take on crowd funding allowed supporters of micro-causes to vote, advancing programs and projects like Delp’s ride. Projects in various categories earned grants awarded monthly to those with the most votes. Coast2Coast for Cancer made it to 31st place, but Delp did not win a prize.

Often, people along the route will simply step up to fill a need. Like the woman who offered to keep the horse as Delp hauled back to Washington last week on an emergency trip to tend to one of her dogs being cared for at home, that “ironically,” as Delp says, came down with cancer.

Delp expected to have to put the dog down, but 14-year-old Duke rallied at her arrival. “I’m checking in with him, and he’s not ready,” said Delp, who makes a living as an “animal interpreter.”

On Thursday, I spoke to Delp, who was driving her truck, decorated with sponsor decals, through Colorado on her way back to Iowa. Duke was happily gazing at the scenery go by. That’s right; Delp will now bring her aging dog, who is ailing with cancer along on the journey.

She hasn’t quite figured out what she will do with Duke while she rides, but Delp is undaunted. She’s pondering how to fix up a wagon in which he can ride comfortably. Alternately, she’ll find a daily dog sitter. One way or another, she and her animals will roll with whatever the road brings their way.

“Cancer is not something you can ever plan for,” she said. “Now, here we are. This is an adventure.”

Update on Friday: Duke died on Thursday night, just a few hours after my interview with Delp. And the journey continues.

Local resident battles the bulge on “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition”

Update 7/23/12: The date of the show has been moved to Aug. 5.

Note: This item was submitted by our summer intern Katie Scaff.

PORT ORCHARD — Jonathan McHenry of Port Orchard will make his television debut on Sunday, July 29, on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition”.

The two-hour episode will follow McHenry’s 12-month weight loss journey, which began after he got a call from the show in May of 2010.

The call came out of the blue for McHenry, who had sent in a casting tape to NBC’s hit weight-loss series “The Biggest Loser,” but started looking into gastric bypass surgery after not hearing back from the show’s producers.

Jonathan McHenry with trainer Chris Powell

“I was two weeks away from my surgery date. I already met the doctor and had all the pretests,” McHenry said.

At 550 pounds — and driven by thoughts, like, “What if I died? What if I only had one year left?” — the 31-year-old knew he needed help turning his life around and sought out a chance on “The Biggest Loser” earlier that year.

“You start getting desperate,” McHenry said.

But after not hearing from the NBC show, McHenry was leaning toward the idea of gastric bypass surgery, an option that had been in the back of his mind for the last few years.

“I told myself at 24 I was young and could lose the weight. I kept telling myself I would do it by the time I was 30,” McHenry said.

After passing the magic age to accomplish his weight-loss goals, McHenry saw the surprise call from ABC producers as his chance to finally get his weight under control.

“I didn’t want to be a forgotten guy. I had all those visions of where I wanted to be and I was no where close,” McHenry said.

McHenry set aside his surgery plans and spent six months in the interview process for the show.

The fateful day came in November 2010. McHenry thought it was just another interview taping when he got a knock on the door and learned he was one of the chosen eight.

He was elated.

“It was an opportunity to change my life and be healthy for my family,” McHenry said.

He spent a week at a weight-loss boot camp in California with his new trainer, the show’s host, Chris Powell.

The camp was a kick-off for the year of intense exercise and dieting that followed.

Powell followed him home and stayed for three months at McHenry’s house where he lives with his wife, Lisa, sons, Jontae and Jaxon, his mother, and Lisa’s uncle.

“He just took it to the next level. He helped me get through all the physical and mental barriers,” McHenry said.

Powell taught him about working out, nutrition and how to change his body.

“He gave me the blueprint for what I needed to do for the rest of year. My next nine months were up to me,” McHenry said.

Left with a small gym at his house, and cameras to keep tabs on him, McHenry continued toward his goals.

“It’s been a life-changing experience for him,” said McHenry’s mother-in-law Debbie Narducci. “It’s been nice to see him more active with the boys.”

McHenry can’t publicly reveal how much weight he lost until the show airs, but he said that he wants to continue to be healthy and help other people do the same.

“A lot of people need people to believe in them. My new passion in life is to workout and pass on my knowledge,” McHenry said.