The number was shocking — 248.
That’s what Craig resident Dave Seed saw when he stepped on the scale a few years ago.
The 62-year-old was embarrassed, dejected and “totally humiliated,” he said.
But, prompted by declining health, he decided to do something about it.
“I got on a scale at the hospital and it said 248 pounds and I’m not a very big person and I was really sick,” he said. “I was so ashamed of myself at what I had done to myself.
“When I stepped off the scale, I flipped on the switch for the Irish resolve and it started coming off.”
Seed enrolled in a health and wellness program at the Craig VA Telehealth Clinic.
“They like to see us walking at least three times a week and so I went to the extreme and I go 10 miles a day,” he said, noting weather doesn’t have much influence on his strolls.
“We can walk in the mall as much as we can if the weather is bad outside,” he said. “But, I like to be outside, if I can.”
In two years, Seed dropped 112 pounds and got his health back in line. It also led him down another path.
As he would walk, day in and day out, Seed noticed trash lying around areas such as Craig City Park, schools and churches. So, he decided to do something about that, too.
“The park, I mean sometimes it is horrendous, you know, so that’s where I got started,” he said. “At first, I just started carrying a bag, then I had a hoop with a bag on it, and now I’ve got a five gallon bucket.”
During his walks, Seed sometimes picks up more than 20 gallons of trash.
“I used to try to get it all … but it is just too much,” he said. “My whole thing is, I’m selfish — I want to walk, I want to move. I don’t want to stand and pick up cigarette butts for 30 minutes in the same spot.”
Seed, originally from Wisconsin, is now retired.
He spent 23 years working at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in various capacities — 17 of which were spent fueling aircraft. He is married and has three children.
He is also a veteran and served in the Army during Vietnam, a place he said was “noisy” more than anything.
Then, he was 120 pounds. But, the years crept into his waistline.
“I think like a lot of people, you have to struggle real hard working and work long hours,” he said. “You don’t eat right or you eat once a day. You come home late at night and eat everything in sight. You try to go to sleep and be up at 4 or 5 in the morning and it’s just year after year.”
Seed keeps moving now thanks to his MP3 player and usually a little Billy Idol, Queen or The Pretenders.
“Whatever has a good beat … weird stuff,” he said.
He maintains his trash grabbing hobby isn’t unusual or out of the ordinary.
“I don’t like looking at the trash — nobody does,” he said. “I’m not trying to send a message or anything or get any credit for anything.”
But, his community service doesn’t go unnoticed, he said.
“Sometimes people will pull up in their car on the street and say, ‘Thank you,’” he said. “People notice.”
One person who has noticed both — the weight loss and the trash pick up — is his daughter, Jennifer Barlean.
“I am very proud of my dad because there was a time when it was a chore for him to put his shoes on and tie them or take the trash out,” the 37-year-old Barlean said.
“I don’t know anybody else that will walk down the street and pick up all the cigarette butts, you know? He will.”
Since early December 2010, Seed said he has taken about 2 million steps.
“Now, I can tie my own shoes,” he said. “I can bend down to pick up trash. Now, all the friends I had are gone — they were only hanging around for the shade, it turns out.”
In college, Seed was a sculpting major, but was too “analytical” for the profession, he said. Instead, he switched to history, which he said made more sense.
He became obsessed with 18th century American history, the settling of the country and the Western expansion.
“Although, I am ashamed to say, I don’t know much about Craig,” he said. “I should because when I am in the park walking, people visiting here will stop there and ask me questions and a lot of times I can’t answer it.
“I think, ‘Boy that’s pretty silly I can’t tell them more about when the town was established or when the buildings were built.’ I’ve been meaning to get around to that.”
His years of walking have also changed his perspective on the city. He now pays more attention to the details, has become more mindful of the world around him, and is even becoming familiar with the birds in city park.
“I appreciate it more than I did,” he said. “I walk several times a day and you’ll see something in the yard and the light is different or something and it looks entirely different, more interesting.”
Barlean said her father “just will not give up.”
But, Seed isn’t doing it for attention, she said, rather to get out of the house and be mobile.
“He’ll even tell me, ‘If I don’t get up and walk today, I’ll never do it again,’” she said.
Seed agreed, adding that with no real distractions, other than picking his grandson up from school, there’s nothing stopping him.
“I just try to put on my game face and go every day,” he said.
“I hope that my grandson is old enough that he sees this journey that I’ve been on and can remember what determination can do,” he said. “You know, Irish resolve.”
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