Vaught to be Fire Department "Poster child" - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Vaught to be Fire Department "Poster child"

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Emergency Management Deputy Director Jim Vaught is one of Albany's most high profile public safety leaders. But at nearly 450 pounds, Vaught is morbidly obese. He's recently lost some weight, and is now preparing for lap band surgery so he can become the poster child for a wellness program for firefighters.

Take a good look at Jim Vaught. Somewhere, buried deep inside, is this body. A svelte 190 pound Marine. A body, that somewhere along the way took a wrong turn. Now 60, he weighs nearly 450 pounds and has reached the breaking point.

He said, "I all of the sudden one day woke up and said, this ain't good."

So Vaught decided to have weight loss surgery. Coupled with diet and exercise changes, plus a new health and wellness program put on by the fire department, in collaboration with Phoebe, Vaught knows he'll find the man he used to be, and he's already making plans to do things he's had to miss out on because of his weight.

He said, "I have a corvette I haven't driven in years. I can't get behind the steering wheel. I can't drive it. My stomach is too far out. I have a Harley Davidson that I love to drive, but I'm scratching the gas tank with my belt buckle."

A belt he'll have to take in quite a few notches. Vaught plans to lose four pounds a week, 20 pounds a month until he's back down to 200 pounds.

"He has a can do, will do kind of attitude and that's important because you can't do it unless you want to do it," said Darrell Sabbs.  Sabbs helped form the partnership between the fire department and Phoebe.

While Vaught may be the poster child for the program, every firefighter's health is important. "We feel like it's our duty," said Sabbs.  "They help us and save lives for us, so as a community and an institution, as a healthcare system, it's our responsibility to respond."

And Vaught says it will be his duty to respond by following the surgery with exercise and a healthy diet.  He said, "I'm not nervous at all. I think it's a great opportunity."

An opportunity to uncover the man that's still inside.

Jim Vaught's surgery is Tuesday. He hopes his weight loss journey will take about a year.

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