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White City man raises cash to go to weight-loss camp

At close to 500 pounds, well-known local football announcer Randy Ellis has a lot to lose.

“I’ve got myself in a hole, and I can’t dig myself out,” said the 39-year-old White City resident, who was a former local football star and remains active in the Pop Warner league locally.

Ellis said he recently heard of another local man in his mid-30s who died from a heart attack, and he worries the same thing could happen to him, which would be unfortunate for his 11-year-old son Jace.

“That’s a wake-up call,” he said. “It’s an emergency.”

Ellis is trying to raise $10,000 through GoFundMe, a popular fund-raising site, to pay for a three week stay at The Biggest Loser Resort, a weight-loss camp. So far, he’s received $1,470, which includes an anonymous donation of $1,000.

An electrician by trade, Ellis said his overeating began many years ago when the economy tanked and his work dried up. The bills piled up and so did the calories.

He was a big guy before, weighing in at around 300 pounds, but he found himself going to fast-food restaurants a little too frequently.

“I’ve gotten real bad in the last couple of years,” he said.

Raelynn Shafer has known Ellis for about 20 years, and her boyfriend has known him since they were children.

“We care about him,” said the 37-year-old Shady Cove resident. “We think it’s pretty serious.”

Shafer said she’s noticed a big difference in Ellis physically over the years. “Inside, it’s the same Randy, the same person. He’s still the big teddy bear. He’s got your back.”

She said Ellis is very active in sports and loves coaching, and he is very active in his son’s sports activities.

In conversations with Ellis, Shafer said she has heard him express concern about being able to see his son graduate and eventually marry.

“It breaks my heart and breaks my boyfriend’s heart to see him think that way,” she said.

Ellis said he barely noticed the extra pounds piling on until a friend made a remark one day.

Over the past year, he tried to get on the TV show "The Biggest Loser," and said he was in the running as a finalist, but didn’t make the cut.

He said his weight is beginning to affect his life, making it difficult for him to crawl under houses or in attics for his work.

“When you’re this size, there’s a lot you can’t do,” he said.

As he looks at his son, Ellis said he worries that his lifestyle could rub off, even though his son is active in sports year-round.

His goal is to lose 200 pounds, noting that he’s a pretty big guy to begin with and still has a lot of muscle strength.

“I need to change my whole lifestyle,” he said.

Ben Fazio of Eagle Point has known Ellis since he was 5 and is very concerned about his friend’s health, particularly since he remembers him being very athletic and into weightlifting.

“He’s still so involved in Eagle Point sports, and he was announcing games today,” 39-year-old Fazio said Sunday. “He’s contributed so much to the sports program.”

Fazio, who works in law enforcement, said he contributed $100 to Ellis' effort to go the Biggest Loser Resort.

“I would just like to say that he is such a deserving guy,” he said. “For the people who don’t know him, he is more than worth it.” 

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @reporterdm.

Randy Ellis and his son Jace, left, attend a football event in White City last year. Randy, who weighs nearly 500 pounds, wants to lose weight to protect his health. Photo courtesy of Randy Ellis