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By Sean Barron
Not long ago, Danny Cahill was gaining a tremendous amount of weight while losing a tremendous amount of hope.
Thanks largely to an overhaul in his attitude and beliefs, however, the opposite is now true.
“I was resigned to die early and leave my wife and kids, but that was not in God’s plan,” Cahill told his audience at Saturday’s third annual Men’s Rally in the Valley at the Covelli Centre.
Cahill was one of six motivational speakers to address an estimated 2,500 people of all ages and faiths at the seven-hour nondenominational event, themed “Leaving a Legacy.” The rally was similar to events staged by Promise Keepers, an international conservative nonprofit Christian organization dedicated to helping men grow spiritually and devote themselves to God.
The gathering also offered opportunities for worship and fellowship with more than 30 ministry tables, as well as information on breaking addictions. Various books, compact discs, T-shirts and coffee mugs with religious themes were for sale.
A few years ago, Cahill, of Broken Arrow, Okla., weighed 460 pounds and was barely able to get up from the sofa without a lot of pain and effort, he recalled during his presentation, titled “Family Impact.” But he auditioned for, and was the winner of, the NBC show “The Biggest Loser” during its eighth season after having lost 239 pounds in about six months, a record for the show.
“For a while, I was a soulmate of my Lazy Boy,” said a trim and healthy-looking Cahill, who’s also a musician and a songwriter.
These days, however, he spends a lot less time being sedentary. He recently participated in the Boston Marathon and rides a bicycle regularly for exercise and pleasure, he said proudly.
The weight gain resulted in a 69-inch waist and was a product of Cahill’s slowly giving up on himself, he said. That led to Cahill’s taking many of his frustrations out on his wife, Darci, and their two children, he explained, adding that he became angry because of an inability to provide properly for his family.
“In my life, I spent more time giving up than following through,” said Cahill, who also lost money from gambling and debt problems.
It’s critical that men face, and not sidestep, challenges, and realize they have the ability to affect others in positive ways, be role models for their families and accept that they have a purpose, he said. He added that it’s never too late to turn one’s life around.
Other speakers who talked about overcoming obstacles, impacting communities and developing a closer relationship with God were Nick “the Greek” Pirovolos, an author and former inmate; Everett A. Whiteside, founder of Higher Praise Covenant Church of Warren; the Rev. John Ryser, pastor of Damascus Friends Church; the Rev. Jay Radman, pastor of Lord’s Community Church in East Liverpool; and the Rev. Rodney Maiden, pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Euclid.
Also trying to have a positive impact on his community is Vincent Stigliano of Howland, who plans to open a prayer center in downtown Warren.
“My goal is to operate it 24/7,” Stigliano said before Cahill’s presentation.
It is hoped the center will debut in about a month for those who feel they need to pray for local businesses, others and themselves, noted Stigliano, who along with his wife, Cheryl, is working with the Rev. Dan Barber, pastor of Portland Trinity Baptist Church in Cortland.
Also in Trumbull County, an Adopt-a-Street program is in the works, thanks largely to Steve Woodfint of Liberty Township, who wants to encourage more neighbors to reach out and get to know one another, as well as help them meet their needs.
“We’ve kind of lost that as a community,” he said of healthy neighbor relations.
Woodfint noted that the program also will include prayers for individual neighborhoods. He added that he hopes it will eventually reach beyond Trumbull County. For more information on the program, visit www.tcprayermovement.com. Also assisting Woodfint launch Adopt-a-Street was fellow church member Tom Kane of Cortland.
“We need to start bringing God back to the community,” he said.