FRANKLIN, Ind. (WISH) – Franklin Community High School freshman Eric Ekis is trying to get healthy one step at a time.
Since last semester, he’s been working to lose weight. His partners in the effort are Kevin and Grace, a couple of students in Franklin’s innovation class, teacher Lesleigh Groce, and several other classmates who are hoping to shed a few pounds through exercise and healthy eating.
Tuesday, the group got a huge boost of encouragement from a famous face who knows all too well what it’s like to struggle with weight.
“It really hit a nerve,” said Indianapolis native Jared Fogle.
The North Central and IU graduate, who is now the face of Subway sandwiches after losing hundreds of pounds eating subs every day, saw himself in the story of Eric Ekis.
“Reading his story, feeling myself in his shoes, knowing myself what it’s like, and I’m thinking oh my gosh that’s me, that was me, 20 years ago,” said Fogle.
Since 24-Hour News 8 started following Ekis’ story in December, his weight has gone up and down, but one thing that’s remained constant is the support he’s getting from some of his classmates, and now he’s got a new big time cheerleader in Fogle.
“(I want to do) anything that I can do to help him,” said Fogle. “Any words of wisdom that I can give him, knowing that I’ve been down the very same road that he’s on right now. Knowing the ups and downs, and even when you get going, there’s going to be some rough days ahead of you. But you’ve got to keep bouncing back from that.”
For Subway, Fogle travels more than 200 days a year, but Tuesday was personal. He met privately with Ekis and his classmates wanting to get healthy.
Fogle carries around his now famous big pants with him, hoping to encourage these students that losing weight can be done, but that it is a journey best taken one step at a time.
“One of the things I always tell people, is I still fight every day, it’s not easy,” said Fogle.
After that private meeting, Fogle did an assembly for the whole school.
Ekis is working on a “vlog,” keeping himself accountable, and encouraging others. But Tuesday, his thoughts were on the future.
“It just amazed me that he did that in a year, ‘what can I do in a year?’ That’s what I’m thinking,” said Ekis.
At the same time Fogle reflects on the present.
“I feel lucky, I feel really lucky, but I define luck as being prepared for an opportunity,” said Fogle.
He’s traveled the world for his job, met two sitting presidents, and even been in a movie (“Jack and Jill” starring Adam Sandler), but even with his world-wide success, Fogle is still a Hoosier at heart.
“I think getting to meet President Obama at the White House and President Bush at the White House was pretty cool stuff,” said Fogle. “And the fact that they both knew who I was before I got there was pretty crazy and pretty surreal.”
“But probably the ultimate thing for me still was getting the chance to see the Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears in the Super bowl with my dad, and I was there on official business, it doesn’t get any better than that,” said Fogle.
Not only does Fogle travel for Subway, he’s also started the Jared Foundation, aimed at ending childhood obesity. For more information click here.
And click here to see Eric’s latest vlog.