For NewsChannel 3 Executive Producer Bill DiNicola, getting up the nerve to ride “The Griffin” at Busch Gardens goes far beyond braving high flying twists and turns.
“Fifteen years outside of amusement parks and then you come back and you see this,” said Bill.
Bill’s last attempt at a roller coaster ride sent him on a life changing tailspin.
“That was the starting point of me realizing I was too fat to do things,” he said.
Bill's nearly 500-pound-frame proved too much for the ride at a park in New Jersey. The safety harness would not latch.
“When it started getting up a little higher I said okay stop, I started waving my arms,” he said. “They came up. They let me off.”
“My first inclination was just jump,” said Bill. “I walked down the stairs and it was this tremendous amount of shame.”
The shame of that day sent Bill into sort of hiding. He avoided places and activities where he thought his weight would lead to embarrassment.
“When you get to a certain weight, and I was 476 pounds, it's not funny,” said Bill. “It's not like a sketch. You're that person who can break furniture by sitting on it, by doing what it was designed to do."
“I basically spent a good part of the best years of my life being, not doing everything I wanted to do,” Bill said.
Bill's road to a deadly weight did not happen overnight. He was an athlete in high school, but over time more eating and less time on the field led to morbid obesity.
His breaking point came about a year ago when he sidelined himself for the station`s softball season because he couldn't fit into his size 4X jersey.
“You've finally done it,” he recalls saying to himself. “You've lost the last thing that you could do from previous life. That's gone now because you've let yourself get this way."
“There's one thing you can do right now, and that's change it and switch it,” he said.
Bill made that switch on January 7, 2015 byjoining Bon Secours nutrition and weight loss program. Through a restricted diet and exercise he is down 227 pounds!
“I can't believe it's me,” said Bill. “Now if I want to go somewhere, I go somewhere. If I want to ride a rollercoaster, I ride a rollercoaster.”
That's exactly what Bill is doing now by creating a high point out what was once a devastating low.
“This is me getting back up!" he said of riding the roller coaster.
Bill had such a blast he rode the ride four times!
“They're like you want to go again? Yes!” he said. “I just took down the baddest rollercoaster at Busch Gardens sitting in the baddest seat so I feel amazing.”
“This is one of the best moments of my life right now and I’m just so glad I actually got to live it," Bill said.
Living life to the fullest is what Bill does best these days, and he wants anyone battling obesity to choose life, too.
“This might feel like the end of the world to you. This may feel like something you can`t do anything about, but you can,” said Bill. “I’m so happy that I just get to take my life back.”