‘Tutu man’ runs to make you smile, for faith

Robert Woldhuis, aka tutu man, trains ahead of the River Bank Run. (May 9, 2016)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — He calls himself the “tutu man.” But for Robert Woldhuis, there’s a much deeper meaning behind his running outfit.

“There were a lot of years of many poor life choices, poor physical choices. I used to smoke two packs of cigarettes a day,” recalls Woldhuis.

Woldhuis was raised in Clarksville in a Christian home and attended Christian schools.

“When I went to the Army, I just felt a lot of disconnect with the Christian faith. Hypocrisy. I just listened to a lot of that in my mind,” said Woldhuis. tutu man Robert Woldhuis 050916

In April of 2007 while living out West, Woldhuis received a call from his ex-wife. Two of his sons had been killed in a car accident while on their way to Good Friday service up north near Fife Lake.

“I kept it together for a little while but ended just really dealing with it negatively with bad life choices. Just kind of put me into a dark spot where I was. To me I knew the two things that had to change were me being accountable to other people and also me being more transparent with people,” Woldhuis said.

Woldhuis has never forgotten those dark and lonely times and now works to make sure people stay out of that spot through “Celebrate Recovery” at Impact Church in Lowell.

He says he’s back on God’s team and remembers the moment it happened.

“I was in a place where I was all by myself. I had come to the absolute very end of myself. And I felt God just saying to me, ‘Are you done yet? You know because I’m ready to take you in. I’m here with my arms open. I just need you to take one step back to me. And I’m ready to take you back into my fold.'”

Born again, baptized and branded.

A devil tattoo on his chest that ruled his state of mind for years was covered with a cross, the waters of baptism and a dark dove so he doesn’t forget where he’s been.

And as for the tutu?

“The tutu just reminds me just you know, let it go. And you know, give it to God,” Woldhuis said.

He started running a year and a half ago. Last year’s Fifth Third River Bank Run was the second race he’s ever run. He’s also part of a 50 state half marathon club.

“When I run by and they see a 225 pound guy in a tutu, I get plenty of laughs and plenty of smiles.”

You can follow Woldhuis’ adventures on Facebook through his page “The Adventures of TuTu man.”

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