Danny Coleman

Danny Coleman likes to say he’s half the man he used to be. This would be a bad thing in most cases, but it probably saved his life. Through a combination of lifestyle change, therapy, hard work and surgery, he has shed 285 pounds.

The Midville, Ga., native says he’s struggled with weight and other health issues for most of his life. After reaching 527 pounds, Coleman knew he needed to get healthier.

After researching the options, he settled on gastric bypass surgery to lose the extra pounds. Before he could get the operation, the medical facility told Coleman he needed to drop some weight on his own.

“Because [I was] so large, they wanted me to lose 40 pounds,” he explains.

Not content to do the bare minimum, Coleman more than doubled that amount.

“I lost 100 on my own, so they knew I was serious and dedicated,” he says. “They set me up and did the surgery.”

He officially “declared independence” from his unhealthy lifestyle on July 3, 2012, when he underwent the surgery at Live Healthy MD in Augusta, Ga., which also took charge of his pre- and post-surgery care.

“They had two nutritionists, the surgeon, a medical weight-loss doctor, and then they had a reconstructive surgery person all in house,” Coleman says.

Coleman is now serving as secretary/treasurer for SkillsUSA Georgia’s college/postsecondary division. He was introduced to the organization in 2013 while attending Southeastern Technical College in Vidalia, Ga.

“I started tech school in business management,” Coleman says, “and my college success and survival skills teacher announced there was a club on campus.” He decided to check it out.

Coleman liked what he saw. As he got involved, the student saw how SkillsUSA is much more than a club and integral to career and technical education.

He sees his state leadership position as an opportunity to represent the views of fellow students. “Being a state officer is not about a title or position, but about serving others and helping other voices to be heard,” he explains.

Given what he’s already been through, Coleman is also using his weight loss as a way to inspire others and to gain public-speaking experience.

“I share my story at churches and everything,” he says, stressing that the experience has “definitely” helped him with his confidence.

“It’s all leadership,” Coleman adds, and serving as a state officer is a “very rewarding and humbling experience that I will never forget for the rest of my life.”