Papa Joe Aviance to promote healthy living through Live for Life Tour
By Meagan McGone
PALM BAY - He's stopping in Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles, but his first stop will be right here in Brevard.
Papa Joe Aviance, a Los Angeles-based musician, clothing designer and CEO of his own production company called Papa Joe Networks, will kick off his "Live for Life Tour" at Tropical Resort LGBT, located at 4700 Dixie Highway in Palm Bay.
"The Live for Life Tour" is an effort to inspire people to achieve healthy lifestyles through the joy of walking. Papa Joe Aviance invites everyone to join him as he walks 5 miles in various cities throughout the United States.
"This event is a kick-starter to just get people motivated to get up and walk," he said. "This tour is all about health and wellness and giving others the tools of information as to how to lead healthier lifestyles through food and exercise, and maintaining a positive frame of mind."
A Michigan native, Papa Joe Aviance said he understands the struggle of weight loss, as he has fought obesity for most of his life. When he was 6 years old, he coped with his parents' divorce through eating, and the more stress he endured, the more he ate.
"It was almost as if I was trying to fill that hole of pain with food," he said.
At his heaviest, Papa Joe Aviance weighed 450 pounds. And as he gained more weight, he lost his self-esteem.
He said the most painful part of it all was being judged by everyone around him.
"When I went to an amusement park one day, one of the attendants yelled out to the entire holding area, 'This guy is too fat for the ride. Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to get off. You're just too big for the ride,'" he said. "I was mortified. It's one thing to be taken aside, but to have the attention of the entire crowd on my size and me was unbearable. I felt ashamed."
His turning point came in the form of a Billboard dance chart-topping hit, "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life," a song he collaborated on with international house musician, Lula. After watching the music video for the song that launched his career, Papa Joe Aviance said he was shocked by his appearance.
"I could not believe that it was me in that video," he said. "It finally hit me that to be happy and successful in my new profession, I had to do whatever it took to get this weight off of me once and for all. The video was getting a lot of hits on YouTube, and I was more embarrassed about how many people were seeing the way I looked."
In 18 months, Papa Joe Aviance lost 250 pounds. He attributes the weight loss to his commitment to walking, as well as eating a healthier diet. Now, his mission is to inform people that goals can be achieved naturally, without gastric bypass surgeries or trendy diets.
"Through my weight loss journey, I have met hundreds of people within my own community and motivated them to start living an healthy and active lifestyle, and they couldn't be happier," he said. "Every journey starts with one step, and I hope that my story will provide others with hope to see that they can change their lives."
The Live for Life Tour will begin in Palm Bay on Sunday, Sept. 2 at 9 a.m at Tropical Resort LGBT. Participants will walk 5 miles with Papa Joe Aviance and afterward will receive a healthy brunch provided by the Melbourne-based health store Nature's Market.
Proceeds of the event will benefit the Melbourne and Vero Beach chapters of PFLAG, a national organization of parents, families and friends of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals, promoting the health and well being of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families through support, education and advocacy, said Alisha Gibbons, sales and marketing director for Tropical Resort LGBT.
"We hope that we have a ton of people come out for the walk, and that we raise money for PFLAG," Ms. Gibbons said. "We genuinely feel that this is a very good cause, and Papa Joe is a sweet person."
For more information, visit www.liveforlifetour.com, www.tropicalresortlgbt.com or call (321) 951-0350.