Biggest loser inspires Durham church

Jan. 13, 2013 @ 09:14 PM

Danny Cahill, the Season 8 winner of the hit television show “Biggest Loser” believes everyone must find their why, the thing that motivates them.
Cahill, an Oklahoma native, was in Durham on Sunday to give a motivational talk at King’s Park International Church and to sign copies of a new book written by Cahill and his wife, Darci, titled “Losing Big.”       
For Cahill – the biggest loser in the history of the show, having shed 239 pounds from his 460-pound frame in a little more than six months – his family became the “why.”
“My daughter walked in one day and there I was sitting on the sofa 460 pounds, and she walked in and said, ‘I want to be just like you,’ ” Cahill said in an interview before his speech.
At first, Cahill said he lit up at the notion that his daughter Mary Claire, then 8, saw him as a positive role model.
“Then she said I want a belly just like yours,” Cahill said. “I had a 69 ½ bell, so that wasn’t a good thing. That’s when I got mad. Anger is not always a bad thing. Anger is a trigger telling you something’s up, something’s got to change.”
Cahill channeled that anger into three attempts – he came up short twice – to win a spot on the show that would eventually change his figure and also his life.
“Here I’d been saying it’s my life,” Cahill said. “My family tried to have interventions with me. I tried to lose the weight dozens of times. I lose 10, 20, 30 pounds, then I’d quit.”
But motivated by his daughter’s words, Cahill committed to lose the weight.
“This time was different because I got really angry at myself,” said Cahill, tearing up and pausing to regain his composure. “It wasn’t me at stake. It wasn’t my life. It was my family. I’m the head of this household, a husband and a father and I’m leading these people.”
Cahill, a former high school football player who helped his school win a state title, had dreams of being a musician, and played two original songs he wrote during motivational talk.
But after getting married and starting a family, Cahill said his priorities changed.
“I was going to be a musician. That was my priority, that was my passion,” Cahill said “When I lost that, I kind of lost myself. I kind of gave up on me and when I did, the weight start to come on and before you knew it I was at my highest weight of 460 pounds.”
And while food was the primary addiction, Cahill said he also struggled with a major gambling problem that he kept secret from his wife and that would eventually drive his family deep into debt.
Cahill made his appearance before a nearly full house at King’s Park by busting through a life-sized poster of his former self like he did after winning on “Biggest Loser.”
And while he talked about his weight loss and his current struggle to lose 20 pounds he gained after his father’s death last year, his large message was about faith, renewal and leaving the past behind.
“If they can get one thing out of it, I just don’t want people to ever give up,” Cahill said.
He said he continues to fight his food addiction.
“It’s very difficult,” Cahill said. “I have issues with food and it’s a daily struggle.”
Currently touring the country speaking and sharing his story mostly at churches, Cahill took delight in packing a church in Green Bay, Wisc., last week while the Packers were playing.
He has known Ron Lewis, the founding pastor and senior minister at King’s Park for several years.
He also noted that the sister of one of the contestants, Tracy Yukich, is a member of King’s Park.
“I didn’t know that until she [Yukich] texted me last night and said I would be doing a show at her sister’s church today,” Cahill said. 
Lewis said Cahill has a compelling story to tell.
“It’s an inspiring story,” Lewis said. “We call it a God story. Those are the kinds of stories that provide oxygen to people and help them in their journey.”
Cahill is a member of the “Biggest Loser” ambassador program.