Beaufort mayor hogs the spotlight for a good cause

Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling was a man of his word Wednesday afternoon, kissing a pig in front of a crowd of smiling onlookers near the clock tower on Bay Street.

Keyserling vowed to pucker up to the animal, a 3-month-old pot-bellied pig named Hamlet, after he hit his goal to lose 40 pounds as part of the American Diabetes Association's Kiss-A-Pig Campaign. Keyserling is the first Beaufort County official to participate in the event and started off at 292 pounds.

After some high-pitched squealing foiled the mayor's initial attempt to kiss the animal -- chosen by the association because pigs were the source of insulin for early diabetic treatments -- Keyserling had to re-think his approach.

"I think I'll have to come down to him," he said, as a crowd of more than 40 people gathered near Lipsitz Shoe Store.

The animal finally conceded, and Keyserling gently smooched the pig as onlookers cheered and snapped photographs.

Keyserling raised nearly $20,000 for the American Diabetes Association, soliciting donations from friends and colleagues that ranged from five cents to $25 for every pound he lost.

Keyserling said the key to shedding the pounds was understanding the science of weight loss.

"It's not a diet. A diet has a beginning, a middle and an end," he said. "For me, it was about understanding what my resting metabolism was and then exercising at a level higher than that, and if you eat half as much, you lose a half pound a day. It's no secret. It's about changingyour lifestyle."

Keyserling said he plans to continue to lose weight.