Last night I witnessed the most powerful moment in TV history. In fact, it was the most inspiring moment I have ever seen. It touched me so deeply I cried, along with many others, I'm sure. It was especially ironic considering the fact that just the day before I had a conversation with my sister about the damage TV does; most shows are filled with anger, violence, conflict, crime and hate interspersed with ads compelling us to buy things we don't need.
Well, last night's episode of The Biggest Loser provided a bright spot. A moment I will never forget; a life-changing moment for all of us.
The inspiration came from Abby, a contestant on The Biggest Loser who had come to the show 7 weeks ago with the most compelling background: Two and a half years ago her husband, 5 year old daughter and infant son were all killed in a car accident. In a split second a driver going over 100 miles an hour took away her entire family. Abby came to the show to lose weight as well as find a reason to go on living. For the first 2 years after the accident her life consisted of mustering up the strength just to find a reason to make it out of bed. But, now she was ready to take a step forward and face a challenge: losing weight.
From the first day at The Biggest Loser ranch Abby's presence began to have an impact. How could it not?
To experience the kind of loss she did enabled her to see a bigger picture than most of the other contestants. She didn't get pulled into the game play or the petty conflicts that invariably show up among people who are driven to win at all costs. She didn't participate in an eating challenge that could have won her a nice prize, but would have likely added a few thousand calories to her body. She always took the high road.
And that's how Abby created the most powerful moment of TV history last night: by taking the high road and choosing to leave the game (and the ranch) in order to keep her teammates there - most of them young people who had little or no support at home and needed the support and the help of The Biggest Loser training staff to continue to succeed on their weight loss journey.
When Abby said goodbye to her teammates it was clear that her presence had had a tremendous impact on them. Abby came from her heart and some of the contestants (now friends) had never experienced that before. It was incredible to see the impact she made on their lives as they spoke to her through their tears to tell her how much she meant to them and how much they were going to miss her.
This "goodbye" scene with her teammates, as well as her reuniting with her parents and extended family and friends on her return home helped Abby come to a powerful realization: she has the ability to deeply impact people's lives. With this realization Abby changed from someone enduring life to someone living life. She showed all of us that, despite the most horrible tragedy one can imagine, we can find purpose and meaning to our lives.
Thank you, NBC, The Biggest Loser, and most of all, Abby, for reminding us what life is all about and through your courage, determination, and beautiful heart you showed us we can all make a difference.