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Gym members donating to "Get Mary's Smile Back"

Posted at 4:59 PM, Mar 24, 2016
A Tampa Bay Area woman has literally cut her weight in half over the past year.
 
Mary Hetzel went from 320 lbs. in March 2015 to just around 167 lbs by March of 2016.
 
Her plan is to get down to 150 lbs.
 
Her secret?
 
Just eating less and exercising more.
 
No personal trainer. No surgeries. No fancy diets.
 
In addition to the fat, Mary Hetzel has shed diabetes, heart problems, and sleep apnea.
 
And she's shed a lifetime of shame.
 
"They always called me 'Fat Mary,'" said Hetzel. "That's always what my name was."
 
Not anymore.
 
"I jump roped yesterday. I was crying in there because I never jumped rope since I was in my middle school," said Hetzel.
 
Hetzel's transformation is even more amazing when you learn what else she's overcome.
 
"I was on drugs a lot of years. For 21 years. I started doing drugs when I was 17 and I quit when I was 37," explains Hetzel to ABC Action News.
 
Now Hetzel is now off drugs and in significantly better health.
 
But there's one thing she's still embarrassed about.
 
Mary is missing several teeth after years of drug use, and the weight loss brought on an unexpected side effect: her dentures no longer fit.
 
"Now that I've lost weight they do not fit," said Hetzel, covering her mouth.
 
The place where Hetzel solved her weight problem is also the place that's solving the problem with her smile.
 
"We're getting everyone together to help her show off her body with a new smile," says Jessica Jones, the manager of the Anytime Fitness gym on Boyette Road in Riverview. 
 
Jones says Hetzel has inspired the other members at the gym, and so many of them are happy to help her in return.
 
"She's always walking around encouraging people, talking like, 'oh you're doing a great job,' even though you know look at her story," explains Jones.
 
The "Get Mary's Smile Back" campaign has $400 towards their $1,000 goal. The Anytime Fitness corporate headquarters is also donating $1,000 towards Mary's new dentures, and local cosmetic dentistry group Brandon Smiles says they will do the dentures at a reduced price.
 
What's more, Hetzel says she doesn't want to take free money, offering to do a push-up or a sit-up for every dollar donated.
 
As for what inspired Hetzel's total turnaround, the 46-year-old grandmother tells ABC Action News she has too much to live for to let her life slip away.
 
"You just have to make a decision. I had to make a decision or I was gonna die. I was gonna die.  And I don't want to die. I'm just starting to live," says Hetzel.
 
"I was sick and I was tired and I have grandkids and family that are an important part of who I am. I couldn't go outside and play with them," said Hetzel. "I wanted to do things walk in the park. I couldn't even walk my dogs. I was on a cane for three years."
 
Now, Hetzel says she's also working on plans to go sky-diving and bungee-jumping in her new body.