I was totally wrong about Richard Simmons

I grew up seeing Richard Simmons on TV. He was larger than life, with big hair, wild outfits, and enough energy to power a small city. All my memories of him are of a loud guy, jumping around wildly and inspiring a smile. In my mind, that’s all Richard Simmons was, but I was wrong.

Then I listened to the podcast Finding Richard Simmons and discovered there is so much more to the man. In addition to being a wildly inspiring ball of energy, he is a person that cares deeply for others.

In the podcast, there was story after story about how Richard had personally touched people’s lives and cared for them. Richard would meet someone struggling with their weight when out at an event and often ask them for their phone number. The person would give him their number, assuming they would never hear from him again; after all, he is rich and famous. Then, a short time later, Richard would call to check on them. And he would keep calling them to check in, sometimes for years. This story would be remarkable if someone famous did it once, but Richard has done this repeatedly, touching many lives.

My version of Richard Simmons was a caricature. I discovered the man himself is not just inspiring because of his energy and passion but also because of his compassion, love, and deep empathy.

Now I wonder, who else am I wrong about?

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