Jami Tharp, 40, and Jim Bingham, 29, may be separated by 11 years, but there’s not much, other than age, that divides them.


With next Monday, April 10, being celebrated as National Siblings Day, we didn’t have to look far to find this sister and brother combination, who have been there for each other through life’s similar struggles and joys.


The joys would include their common passions of cheering on the Iowa Hawkeyes and watching pro wrestling. But it isn’t all fun and games in the lives of Jami and Jim. In fact, the two admit struggling and understanding one another’s struggles with overweight issues through the years, which resulted in both of them undergoing a sleeve gastrectomy surgical procedure. In the end, that has brought them even closer together.


Jim, a 2006 graduate of Nevada High School, who presently works with special ed students at Woodbury Elementary School in Marshalltown, was the first to take a serious step about his weight.


Always a heavier kid, Jim said he was large, but athletic, and then the weight came on worse after high school and Jim said he wasn’t himself anymore.


“I wasn’t the same person. I was pretty much hibernating; being under a rock unless I was going to (college classes) or coaching (something he’s enjoyed doing here at Nevada),” he said.


“I couldn’t look people in the eye anymore,” Jim admitted about how he felt when his weight got out of control. “I just wanted to be me again.”


Their mom, Lou Ann Williams, a longtime nurse, helped her son. “She put the idea in my head, because I got away from working out.” This mother could see that her son was losing his zest for life. Still, Jim said, he didn’t take to the idea of weight loss surgery at first. “I thought it was the easy way out.” But his mom didn’t quit. She got him to take a few classes to learn more about it.


Finally, after finding the doctor and medical facility he was most comfortable with, Jim did it. He had the sleeve gastrectomy in April of 2015.