One man’s quest for life balance, inner peace and fitness just may inspire millions to make the most important commitment they may ever make in their lifetimes.
In 2004, following a recent weight loss of 130 pounds with the help of a dream team of experts, Massachusetts businessman Gary Marino launched a first of its kind cross-country weight loss walk designed to educate the 65% of Americans currently dealing with weight problems and inspire them to kick-start their own recovery.
A 20-year food addict whose weight topped 397 pounds just three years ago, Marino finally decided to fix what was broken rather than fail at quick-fix fad diets, weight loss pills or radical surgery. In 2000 he hired a professional nutritionist, a fitness trainer, a sports medicine doctor and a therapist specializing in weight loss issues to help dissect his eating disorder once and for all. In addition Marino began walking. And walking. And walking. His new addiction had been born.
April 2004: Gary Marino launches The Million Calorie March, a unique cross-country walk to raise funding for action programs designed to educate and inspire the public.
Gary’s new "addiction" is the driving force behind Generation Excel, a new non-profit organization he hopes will provide education and support for children, individuals, and other organizations dedicated to fighting food addiction the sensible way. Generation Excel’s first project is an incredible 1200-mile fitness walk across the United States in 2004. Walking 10 to 15 miles per day and backed up by a support team traveling via mobile home, Marino stopped at health and wellness expos, weight loss groups, media outlets, schools and corporations. He also met with several individuals in need of help.
Although primarily a one man journey, Marino was frequently joined by groups of children, parents, overweight individuals and others as he walked up the coast. Along the walk route he promoted healthy products and services and distributed health and nutrition brochures. Major sponsors included Auto Part International and Todd G. Patkin Charitable Endeavors. Included in Marino’s advisory support team were obesity expert Dr. Lee Kaplan, head of Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Loss Center and Dr. Bertram Zarins, Massachusetts General Hospital Chief of Sports Medicine.
Gary Marino is everyone’s neighbor. A hard working man dedicated to his family, friends and community - constantly giving his time and resources to those in need. But when it came to helping himself, Gary was caught in the very same struggle with weight loss that millions of Americans have been dealing with.
A PERSONAL TRAGEDY HELPS CREATE THE VISION
In 1999, Gary’s mother, Lorraine "Rainbow" Marino, was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. His final promise to "Rainbow" was his commitment to conquer his food addiction. It was during one of his many long walks of solitude around a nearby lake that The Million Calorie March™ was born. Marino had also made another promise to his mother—that her courageous battle against brain cancer would continue forward. In her memory, Gary created A Night For Rainbow. This annual fundraiser is in its third year, having raised thousands of dollars and attracted media coverage and support from a number of celebrities, including famed author and poet Dr. Maya Angelou and Survivor’s Dr. Sean Kenniff.
THE $100 BILLION DOLLAR EPIDEMIC
According to the National Institute of Health, the obesity epidemic, which is also rapidly growing among children, costs nearly $100 billion annually. That includes the cost for weight loss treatment and treatment of many serious health problems caused by obesity. More than ever, overweight people are at risk from high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, gall bladder disease, certain cancers, respiratory disorders and sleep apnea, a potentially fatal disorder that causes overweight individuals to repeatedly stop breathing while sleeping. In addition, overweight children are developing adult onset diabetes at an extremely young age and at an alarming rate. As a result, America’s health care system is threatened in a way it never has been before. National health experts recently began calling for a massive public campaign, similar to the anti-tobacco campaign, to educate and support the public.
THE PLAN: A 1200 MILE BLUE PRINT FOR CHANGE FOLLOWED BY AN ENERGIZED FOUNDATION DETERMINED TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
The mission of Gary's newly formed Generation Excel is to help children and overweight adults and "challenge the U.S. Government, Corporate America, and health industry movers and shakers to once and for all convene with singular focus to attack the roots of the obesity epidemic.” The 1200-mile Million Calorie March was only the first of many projects Marino has planned. Among the creative concepts currently in development are an educational video/DVD for parents of overweight children; a lecture series on conquering obesity; fundraising events for research; a documentary film about the epidemic; and finally, an annual "mini" Million Calorie March‘ with individuals chosen by the foundation. Marino’s organization will partner with corporations, government agencies, health industry organizations to create highly effective special events and programs that can be built on each year.