SAN NICOLAS DE LOS GARZA, Mexico – Manuel Uribe, who once weighed half a ton, left his house Wednesday for the first time in five years.
Six people pushed Uribe's wheel-equipped iron bed out to the street, as a mariachi band played and a crowd gathered to see the man who once weighed 1,235 pounds.
"The sky is beautiful and blue and what I want is to enjoy the sun," Uribe said after taking a sip from a champagne bottle.
Unable to leave his bed for more than five years, Uribe has lost 397 pounds since he began a high-protein diet a year ago. He now weighs about 840 pounds.
To celebrate the milestone, a forklift placed Uribe's bed onto a trailer pulled by a pickup truck and the 41-year-old mechanic rode through the streets of San Nicolas de los Garza, a Monterrey suburb.
Dozens of reporters and photographers followed Uribe as he passed the town's plaza and church, waving at clusters of people eager to get a glimpse of him.
"It fills me with joy to see he's getting better and getting a little sun," Uribe's neighbor Guadalupe Guerra said. "I would go crazy if I had to be inside my house for so many years."
Uribe was a chubby kid, weighing more than 250 pounds as an adolescent. In 1992, he said his weight began ballooning further.
Since the summer of 2002, Uribe has been bedridden, relying on his mother and friends to feed and clean him.
He drew worldwide attention when he pleaded for help on national television in January 2006. Afterward, an Italian and a Spanish doctor both visited and offered him gastric bypass surgery.
But Uribe chose to accept help from Mexican nutritionists working with the Zone diet. He says he will stick to that diet until he reaches his goal weight of 265 pounds.
"My goal is to leave the house on my own but I know that will be a long process," he said.
Doctors say it may take between three and four years for Uribe to reach his goal.
Uribe said he plans to start a foundation to help overweight people get medical assistance and teach them about healthy eating habits.