Fenton resident Mike Purzycki first noticed David Archibald on the street having trouble with his wheels.
Not wheels on his car or bike, however, but on his walker. Purzycki invited him into his garage to see if he could help.
“He needed an alignment. The wheels on his walker just aren’t meant for the number of miles he walks,” Purzycki said.
Archibald, 65 of Fenton, walks a minimum of 20 miles a week and has logged as many as 50 miles in one week. He had spinal surgery last year after suffering from back pain for more than 10 years.
Soon after the surgery, he began a walking routine and a diet and lost 90 pounds in nine months. The Navy veteran and retired Army Tank Arsenal worker is limited in what he can do physically, but he can walk and has made many friends and inspired others along his route.
Purzycki was out for a walk with his dog the first time he saw Archibald.
“He is a great person and very outgoing. He certainly has become a fixture in the neighborhood,” Purzycki said. “It is amazing to me that he is always out walking no matter what kind of weather and he is usually wearing shorts."
Archibald can usually be seen walking around school seven days a week.
secretary Rose Crane first noticed Archibald walking when she returned to work last August. He was using his walker and was quite bent over.
“He is so dedicated and an inspiration to all of us,” Crane said. “He certainly makes us think about the excuses we make when we don’t make healthy choices.”
Crane said that Archibald walks in all kinds of weather. “When it was raining, he would walk with a garbage bag over him in the rain," she said.
Archibald shared the truth about the garbage bag.
“I didn’t have a raincoat that day, but then I found it in the basement so I started wearing it,” he said, “It’s not that I can’t afford one, I just didn’t feel like getting one.”
Tomek-Eastern principal Brett Young said that he and his staff have watched Archibald's walks for about a year and witnessed Archibald's weight loss and his posture become straighter and taller.
"It's exciting to see this man and his inspiration - his progress," Young said. "He could have easily said that he wasn't the same after surgery or allowed it to slow him down and instead he used it as an opportunity to get even better."
Archibald said once he gets an idea in his head, he goes all out.
“I’ve been like that my whole life – I’m not moderate. Either I do it or I don’t,” said Archibald.
Archibald said he had been overweight for 35 years because of overeating and inactivity. His chronic pain and fear of causing pain in any other areas of his body kept him from being active. He never planned on losing weight, it just happened.
“They didn’t feed me well in the hospital and I lost some weight,” he said. “I figured I might as well keep going so I started walking when I came home from the hospital.”
He ate the same meals everyday for seven months. The meals totaled 1,800 or less calories and included a 6” sandwich, a two-egg omelet with one piece of ham and two ounces of Cheerios.
“I couldn’t sleep if I was hungry so I ate most of my food after 10 p.m., which goes against everything they say," he said.
Archibald would like to maintain his weight and continue to walk but just not as much. He takes a day off now and then from his diet and walks.
“I took a Saturday off once and ate 12 chocolate chip cookies and two Cinnabons. I’m also an ice cream fanatic,” he said. “Sometimes I will also buy the five pound cookie dough tub and just eat the dough.”
Archibald is now working toward a new goal of walking without his walker.
"Right now I can only go about a half mile without it,” he said. “I want to be able to build up to the 30 miles a week I was walking.”
He is also anxious to get back outside to see all the familiar faces along his route.
Sue Humphries lives near Archibald and sees him out walking quite often.
“He seemed to be very upbeat and was handling his post surgery very well," she said. "We wave at each other now.”
He is also still wearing the same pair of tennis shoes on his walks and just hasn’t bothered to buy a new pair. However, he has gone through three sets of wheels on his walker.