CARLISLE, Pa – To fulfill his dream of becoming a police officer, Tom Dolan gave up a lot. More than 200 pounds, in fact.
Dolan, 35, underwent gastric bypass surgery to get his weight under control. That, along with a healthier diet and exercise, helped transform him from a discontented civilian to a proud member of the Carlisle police force.
"The heaviest I ever got was 443 pounds," said Dolan. "I had a 66-inch waist and wore a six-extra-large shirt."
He now weighs about 205 pounds, with a 36-inch waist and an extra-large shirt.
The Windber native said poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle made his weight balloon and his dream of joining the force seem unattainable. He worked as an emergency county dispatcher, a private fire investigator and a member of Carlisle's Union Fire Company.
But his weight continued to rise and his health worsened, and finally in 2003 he sought help from Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. In November 2003, Dolan underwent gastric bypass surgery, changed his eating habits and began an exercise routine.
"I started going to the gym. I'd run two to three miles, then come home and run another two miles. I started lifting weights," Dolan said. "It took me two years to get to where I could pass the (police entry) physical."
He got a position with Ferguson Township police in Centre County and was hired by the Carlisle force in July 2006.
Carlisle Police Chief Stephen Margeson said he was impressed by Dolan's determination.
"It showed us this guy was very committed to his career goal," Margeson said. "It showed a tremendous dedication and resolve."
This week, Dolan is to marry his fiancee, Danielle, a nurse he met through a fire investigation. And he said he has no intention of returning to his former life.
"I love police work. It's high energy and I'm an adrenaline junkie," Dolan said. "I had the drive to accomplish this. I still have that drive."