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Asheville pastor campaigns for Men's Health cover with inspiring weight-loss story

(Photo credit: John Le, WLOS)

Reverend Brent La Prince Edwards needs your last minute votes to land the cover of Men's Health Magazine.

He could preach forever about the value of Tae Kwon Do.

"Everybody can have muscle, but it's an even greater thing to have character," Edwards, the pastor at St. James AME, said.

Edwards is competing in the Men's Health Ultimate Guy Search. The winner gets a trip to New York City as well as the November 2017 cover of Men's Health.

The deadline for votes is the end of the night on July 5.

The magazine is collecting online votes for folks who are health advocates, as well as activists in the community.

The reverend reaches out to folks in his congregation and beyond who need help, including at-risk young people. He hopes the exposure drives home a life-changing message.

"To let people know that all things are possible and that anybody can get in shape at any age," Edwards said.

"Mr. Brent Edwards, come on up!" Master Tony Morris announced at Asheville Sun Soo as the man of faith earned a new belt, which is just the latest notch in the fight for his life.

"Yes sir, thank you," Edwards said with a green belt in his hands.

At 51, he's the picture of fitness. That's in stark contrast to his unhealthy lifestyle 20 years ago.

"Sometimes we get caught up in helping others so much that we often neglect to help ourselves," he said, speaking of himself and fellow clergy members. "And we actually cannot help others until we help ourselves."

He's lost more than 100 pounds since being hospitalized in his 30s. Stroke and heart attack symptoms spurred who he's become today.

"I had a big health scare that motivated me to lose the weight, not just to look good on the beach, but make it a lifestyle," he said.

Over the years, he's kicked down barriers that threatened his health, turning to the martial arts for a source of discipline and strength.

"It is a major part of my health and fitness journey," he told News 13.

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