Tom McCloud is ready to help himself – and some kids

January 16, 2014
Charles Biggs

OK, it’s January and it’s time to lose weight. Stop eating food and start exercising all the time. Join a health club or convert a room in your house to a mini-gym. Start a prehistoric caveman diet or take the latest magic fat-burning pill (made from “natural ingredients”).

It’s hard to lose weight and if you do lose weight, it’s hard to keep it off. And as you grow older, your need to exercise grows and yet it’s harder to exercise in an effective manner.

Tom McCloud, a good friend, is the publisher of Community Spirit, a monthly Christian magazine based here in Tulsa. Late last year, over a delicious breakfast at the Savoy, Tom told me he had two concerns weighing on his heart.

First, he wanted to lose 100 pounds. That is a noble quest. Tom has had a few health issues but this former high school football player wanted to drop this weight so he could have a healthier life.

Danny Cahill, winner of America’s Biggest Loser, lives here and writes a column in Community Spirit every month. He is going to help Tom.

Secondly, Tom has been concerned for the children in West Tulsa. North Tulsa has its problems but it gets a lot of attention – more than the poverty in West Tulsa.

Failing grades, drug abuse, absentee fathers and other social problems abound in parts of West Tulsa.

Some West Tulsa neighborhoods rank high in unmarried mothers, infant mortality, HIV infections and homicides.

These problems are being cycled from generation to generation.

So, Tom’s plan for 2014 is to put a dent in this cycle of poverty. Contact Mission, a nonprofit ministry of Tulsa Neighborhood Network, recently started a “Contact Kids: Teach the Children Campaign.” This campaign entails mentoring, coaching, tutoring, after-school programs and summer day camps – all concentrating on building Christian faith and character.

Their goal is that no child leave one of their events hungry for food or Christian love and affirmation.

From Jan. 3 until Oct. 3, Tom will “sweat, diet and strip off the weight for one reason … for the kids of West Tulsa and surrounding communities.”

Every 60 days, there will be a rally during which Tom’s weight will be documented by his registered dietician, Lindsay Nieman of Cornerstone Christian Counseling Services. Nieman will structure his diet and point him toward long-term success.

Hundreds are making a pledge to donate a given amount of money for every pound Tom sheds over the 10 months.

On Oct. 3, Tom will have a final weigh-in. He will give monthly reports in Community Spirit and on his website,

Cahill will be his mentor. Cahill lost an amazing 239 pounds during season 8 of The Biggest Loser and has kept the weight off. He is a motivational speaker.

Michael Watkins, owner and operator of the Fitness Together locations at 6th Street and Boston Avenue and on Riverside Drive. Watkins, who has a degree in health and exercise science from The University of Oklahoma, is considered one of the best personal trainers in the area.

All of the money from the pledges goes to the Contact Kids: Teach the Kids programs. Contact Mission is part of The Tulsa Neighborhood Network, a nonprofit that has been serving West Tulsa and others for more than a decade.

You can make a pledge at

Can he do it? Sure.

This is a bold step for a wonderful Christian businessman.

Most of us can pledge to lose weight or raise money for our favorite charity but in a private sense. Tom’s has opened up a very personal area to public scrutiny.

He might not make it. One man pledged a lot of money but he said he would give nothing if Tom doesn’t lose at least 100 pounds.

But if Tom does succeed, this is a beautiful thing.

God wants us to stretch our faith. It’s normal to retreat to our comfort zone and to do our best to mask failure and disappointment.

If Tom McCloud can accomplish this with the help of Danny Cahill, Lindsay Nieman and Michael Watkins, it will be a big boost to some kids in West Tulsa, to Tom’s family and friends and to the readers of Community Spirit.

Way to go, Tom.

Tom and I and some friends meet for breakfast every Friday morning. I plan to adjust my breakfast order somewhat and I certainly am not going to pig out in front on Tom when he is on such a noble quest.

Last year, we bought an elliptical machine for our house and I dropped a few pounds.

I do plan to pick Tom’s brain for expert advice on losing weight. The marketplace is full of dieting schemes but I want a plan that I can stick with from now on.

If Tom loses 100 pounds, that is almost a whole person. But perhaps the greatest benefit anyone will derive from this will be some Westside kids that see that someone is willing to push away a giant breakfast burrito in favor of scrambled eggs and tomato slices so that they can have a better life.

• While some seniors were making their funeral arrangements, the cemetery salesman pointed out a plot that he thought they would like. “You’ll have a beautiful view of the swan pond,” he assured them.

The man wasn’t sold: “Unless you’re including a periscope with my casket, I don’t know how I’m going to enjoy it.”

• Just as she was celebrating her 80th birthday, an elderly lady received a jury-duty notice. She called the clerk’s office to remind them that she was exempt because of her age.

“You need to come in and fill out the exemption forms,” the clerk said.

“But I filled them out last year,” she replied.

“You have to fill them out every year.”

“Why? Do you think I’m getting younger?”

• A local museum displays quilts from around the country. When an elderly lady visited recently, she asked the woman at the front desk about a senior discount. She shook her head.

“Maam,” she said, “this is a quilt museum. We give discounts to teenagers.”

• A daughter bought her elderly mother a compact-disc player and some CDs and the mother was excited to discover she no longer needed to rewind or fast-forward tapes or move the needle on her record player.

Knowing she was not that technically astute, she called her a few days later to see how she was managing. “Fine. I listened to Garth Brooks this morning,” she said.

“The whole CD?” I asked.

“No,” she replied, “just one side.”