St Joseph’s Westgate Nurse Sheds Weight to Help Needy

26-pound loss generates $2,600 in donations

By stepping on the scale, Earl Clarke stepped up for homeless teens and needy West Valley families at the holidays.

At 388 pounds, Clarke, an emergency room nurse at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Westgate Medical Center, knew he had to shed weight. But he wanted extra motivation, and he found it by challenging co-workers at the hospital to pledge money for each pound he lost. The funds would go to “adopt” West Valley families and support the Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development, a non-profit that provides supportive services for homeless teens.

“I wanted it to be more meaningful than just, ‘I’ve really got to lose this weight,’“ the 41-year-old Clarke said. “It just sort of snowballed. We thought we could raise enough to support one family.”

In the end, they raised more than $2,600 - enough to provide funds for Tumbleweed and adopt three families with a total of six children, hospital administrator Tina Brucato-Day said.

“It was awesome,” Clarke said. “More and more money kept coming in.”

Clarke’s effort had another benefit – it raised awareness for healthy eating and weight loss, key initiatives for the hospital.

“His peers were really supportive,” Brucato-Day said. “It’s gotten some other people motivated to lose weight.”

Clarke first weighed in at 388 pounds on June 16. For fundraising purposes, his last trip to the scale was on Dec. 4, Clarke’s 41st birthday. He registered 362.4 pounds, a loss of 25.6 pounds.

That worked out to about $100 per pound of lost weight, thanks in part to a $1,000 donation from Clarke and his wife.

“Ideally, I wanted to lose 40 pounds, and I wanted to raise $50 a pound,” he said. “But when it looked like I would fall a little short—I’m very much a man of my word.

I never take for granted what we have, and I always feel that if you have enough to meet your necessities, it’s good to help those who don’t.”

Clarke said his weight loss effort isn’t a holiday fad. He acknowledged that he still has a lot of weight to lose—and he hopes to continue raising money for charity by doing it. He plans to launch another weight-loss program on Jan. 8.

“When you have 388 pounds, realistically, you have 180 pounds to lose” he said. “But there’s still such a mountain to climb.”

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