Airman's road to success began with weight loss journey

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class David Salanitri
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
"I would get out of breath just walking up the stairs from my room to the living room. That's when I knew I needed a change," said Airman 1st Class Steven Childers, a student in the 338th Training Squadron's electronic principles course.

Airman Childers joined the Air Force in November and was among the first 726 Airmen to graduate from the new eight-and-a-half-week basic military training course at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

"I wanted a solid career, so I could provide for me and my wife," said the Utah native.

Airman Childers wanted to join the Air Force like his father, a retired master sergeant, but there was one small problem -- Airman Childers was significantly overweight.

"I knew my weight wouldn't allow me to join the Air Force, so I waited a few months before I actually saw the recruiter," Airman Childers explained. "I lost about 20 pounds when I first went to the recruiter, which was enough to get the paperwork going, but I still needed to lose more."

"I started walking around my building during my lunch breaks at work," he said. "I cut out fried foods and started to run with my dad, who was training for a marathon.

"The first time my dad took me out to run, I felt like I was going to have a heart attack after only one mile," Airman Childers continued.

After losing 70 pounds, Airman Childers was sworn into the Air Force and shipped off for BMT.

But Airman Childers' success story doesn't end there.

"My dad told me about being a BMT honor graduate -- what it was and what it meant. He told me if you earn honor grad that you get a ribbon, a ribbon he doesn't have, which made me want it even more."

Airman Childers was one of the few to be selected as an honor graduate.

"It was such an honor to wear my uniform at his graduation -- just to stand shoulder to shoulder with him and be able to pass on the legacy was moving for me," said retired Master Sgt. Tim Childers, Airman Childers' father.

Airman Childers' wife, Ashley, recalls BMT training as one of the proudest moments of her life.

"I know all of the men and women had worked hard to get through basic training, but I knew that Steven started working hard long before basic training," she said.

Eighty pounds lighter since his journey to join the Air Force began, Airman Childers is healthier and happier than he has even been.

"I ran the fastest mile I have ever run in my entire life last week," he said. "I have more energy than ever before and I feel confident in myself."

"It has been amazing to watch him come from obese to healthy," said Mrs. Childers. "I know it wasn't easy, but he just kept working hard. I cry every time I look at the old pictures of my husband because it reminds me of his outstanding dedication. He wanted to join the Air Force, so he did what he had to do."

Airman Childers remains full of motivation and goals.

"My next short-term goal is to achieve honor graduate here in tech school," he said. "I think that would be pretty neat."