RICHMOND, Va. -- Richard Widmark, an EMT trained to save lives, is now on a mission to save his own life.
The 38-year-old is extremely obese and weighs close to 700 pounds. He said that food has been a family affair.
"It's just the way I was taught to cope with things by eating,” said Widmark.
Widmark said that he was a bully in middle school, but dropped out of high school when bullies targeted him.
In turn, Widmark said he turned to food for comfort. As he packed on the pounds, Widmark said he became more ashamed to look at himself in the mirror.
Hitting Rock Bottom
"When you hate yourself so much, you wish to die -- it's not just getting out of bed,” Widmark said.
Widmark continued to struggle with his weight and then depression before he hit rock bottom.
"I got a gun, loaded it. I went down to the river, down in Richmond and sat in a position where once I pulled the trigger, I would fall in the river. Hopefully, nobody would ever find me again,” said Widmark.
But Widmark's attempted suicide failed. And now he is going through a life-changing experience with yoga.
It's helped him enjoy a healthy diet, a better self-image and hobbies like editing home movies.
And Widmark said that it is not so much about how much weight he loses. Instead, it is about being healthy.
"I feel amazing for doing it. And I hope that everybody does yoga,” Widmark said.
Widmark said that he has been diagnosed with diabetes. However, after changing his diet, Widmark said he is no longer a diabetic.
Wilmark is also active on Facebook where he has been documenting his journey. In fact, a photo posted to his "The Raw Xperience" Facebook blog on April 1 has earned more than 64,000 likes and more than 3,000 shares.
"My yoga teacher took this of me today. When I look at this my first reaction is of disgust. I didn't see what my teacher saw. "Look at your top arm and leg. The openness at your chest and hips is beautiful!! How straight your are able to get, and how you are supporting yourself and balancing on one arm and leg." Years of hating myself won't go away over night, but with the help of supportive friends I'll get there."
Trip of a Lifetime
Widmark's friends have set up a GoFundMe account to help him go to Chicago to see motivational speaker Tony Robbins. The group hopes to raise $3,000 for the trip. So far, they have raised half that amount. [If you would like to donate, click here.]
And Widmark shared more good news on his page less than 24 hours after his story aired on CBS 6 News.
"The good vibes, love and support just keep rolling in. I just got a call from Tim Hurja with Tony Robbins and someone donated a ticket for me to go!! Now my goal is to get my yoga teacher a seat beside me at this event," he posted on Facebook. "My life is doing a 180, and I see that so many people are making changes with me. People aren't changing because of me, they are changing because they see their own potential in me."