One foot after another, Jerry Smith is pedaling towards a new life. Just 11 months ago, the youth pastor weighed more than 400 pounds.
"I kind of felt like a failure," said Smith. "Basically, I realized I was sitting at my computer, killing myself slowly. So I just decided to stop eating at my computer and start walking around, start eating healthy, start biking."
His love of biking led him to lose about 130 pounds, but his journey doesn't end there.
"I'm like, how can I take this and pay it forward and help other people."
That's when Smith got the idea to bike to the "25 Fattest Cities in America," as ranked by Men's Fitness magazine. He plans to bike more than 8,500 miles to raise awareness about youth obesity. His goal is to inspire others to make healthy lifestyle changes, by sharing the story of his own incredible weight loss.
"Stop at each city and say, 'Hey, if I can do it, you can do it. All it takes is reasonable eating and exercise,'" Smith said. "I mean I still have weight to lose, but that's part of my journey. I wanted to do it when I still had weight to lose to show people you can go out and do stuff while you're still overweight."
The trip will take him a grueling 114 days, keeping up a pace of 100 miles a day, six days a week. To train for the journey, Smith has been riding 20 to 40 miles a day at the gym or outside on the road.
"I feel pretty good," Smith said. "A little nervous, a little scared - but I'm ready to get on the road and start."
He'll leave on Sunday, September 2nd at 1 p.m. from Trinity Church in Lansing. One other biker will join him on the trip, followed by a driver carrying their supplies.
He'll head from Lansing to Detroit and Chicago first, visiting cities like St. Louis, Indianapolis, Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas, and Phoenix, before reaching Los Angeles, his final destination.
"My biggest hope would be to number one, finish," said Smith. "And number two, be able to look back and say along the way I was able to change a few lives."
If you're interested in tracking his progress or donating to his cause, you can "like" his Facebook page for more information. Just search for "2012 Catch On Tour."