Edison, NJ (WMC) - After a tragedy in his family, a teenager turned to food to cope with depression and anger. The food led the teen to reach a dangerously unhealthy weight of 540 pounds.
Every day Earl Wallace saw 15-year-old Christopher Charron make his way through the halls of Nuview Academy. Charron showed clear signs of low self-esteem and depression.
"I would look at him and see that the weight was kind of hindering him, and I felt like if I could help him lose the weight, he would be able to come out of his shell a little bit," Wallace told TODAY.
Now, the 540 pound teenager has lost 325 pounds and plans to join the military. It all began with someone who saw something in a teen and cared enough to help.
Charron stopped caring when childhood trauma ripped through his life.
In December 2007, Charron's father murdered his long-time girlfriend. He stabbed the woman and then took the knife to his children, stabbing Charron and his brother and sister. The man also stabbed the girlfriend's daughter. The children survived and the father pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
However, the horrific tragedy left an undeniable scar on Charron. A scar that manifested itself through increasing weight gain.
"I wasn't comfortable with myself," Charron said. "I always wanted to lose the weight. I just never had the motivation to do it. I was too lazy."
Charron met motivation in Wallace.
Wallace taught, even forced, Charron to work out when he didn't want to and taught him how to (and how not to) eat.
The first week was the hardest, with Charron barely trudging along on the treadmill for five minutes, taking a break, and then stretching. Wallace then had to force another cycle of trudging, break, and stretching.
"I would get tired after five minutes," Charron said. "When I was out of breath a lot I would say 'I don't want to do this. I want to go home."
However, Charron said he didn't give up because Wallace wouldn't let him give up.
Wallace took away Charron's hamburgers, french fries, and other unhealthy foods he was used to and replaced them with lean meats, fish, and vegetables.
Charron's mother, Debbie, said it was not only the physical change, but the transformation inside her son as well that took place. She said she is grateful that Wallace helped her son.
"It was the incredible weight loss, but it is also the incredible change in him. As he shed each pound, it was like a pound of depression, anxiety, and anger (was) coming off him," Debbie said.
Within two weeks of working out and dieting, Charron lost six pounds. After the first six months, he had dropped 100 pounds.
Charron now works out five to six times a week, lifting weights and doing cardio. Although he carries excess skin and is hoping he can get surgery to have it removed, he feels much better about himself and feels lucky Wallace pushed him to succeed and never let him give up.
"He would always make me keep doing it. He wouldn't let me give up," Charron said.
However, Wallace said he just wanted him to have a normal life.
"I am just happy that he's able to live a normal life," Wallace said. "Today I am proud. He lost almost two people. His whole personality changed. I am happy. He earned it."