Without the faith and guidance of his theology teacher at Monsignor Bonner High School, Mike Regan may have never pursued his one true talent — catching food thrown at him from great distances with his mouth.
Regan discovered his talent in the school lunchroom when his buddy Rob Scheetz started hurling candy at his face and Regan never missed a catch. But it was the Drexel Hill school's theology teacher, Mr. Rodgers, who pushed the duo to join the school's talent show.
"Mr. Rodgers would have a big bag of Skittles in class every day and he'd be like, 'Throw the full bag at him!' " Regan said.
Regan's most epic mouth catch to date was when Scheetz tossed a marshmallow 135 feet down to him from the Ben Franklin Bridge. It took just six tries before Regan made a successful catch. A cop who was called to the scene for reports of people throwing rocks from the bridge didn't believe their story.
Warning: Video contains profanity
"He said, 'I got to see this,' and he let us do it again," Regan said. "He loved it."
In December, Regan and Scheetz, who are both 25, tried out for "America's Got Talent" in New York City. They advanced to the audition round and later traveled to Los Angeles to perform before a panel of celebrity judges. Though Regan's mouth is usually wide open, it's sealed when it comes to the outcome. He can't talk about the show until after it airs this summer.
What he will say: He took Tastykakes to audition with and wore his favorite shirt, which reads "Fat and Proud." At 6-foot-1 and 387 pounds, Regan is a big guy whose nicknames include "The Marshmallow Man" and "Fat Ed Sheeran."
He wears his "Fat and Proud" shirt, a gift from a friend, in most of his videos, partly to fight stigma around the word fat.
"I think it's about owning it. You've got to be proud of it," he said. "You can tell that people love the shirt, but they don't say anything because they're afraid they'll offend me, but there's no shame in it. None at all."
Regan, of Glenolden, works in catering at American Airlines, where he's been employed since graduating from Monsignor Bonner. He lives with his fiancee and his 3-year-old daughter, Olivia, who loves helping her dad practice his mad skills.
The secret to a perfect mouth catch, Regan believes, is keeping your eye on the marshmallow, though some people believe the trick is in Scheetz's throw.
Marshmallows and Tastykakes are the duo's food missiles of choice. Regan tried to catch a chicken wing once, but it was fowl.
"We've crossed that one off the list," he said. "How I still have my teeth after that blows my mind."
The most frequent response Regan receives to the videos he posts on Instagram of his stunts — which include catching marshmallows thrown on a fishing line and lobbed with a hockey stick — is that they're not real.
Regan and Scheetz showed off their strange talent in the atrium of the Lits Building at Eighth and Market Streets in Center City. With Scheetz on the balcony, Regan stood below, ready to catch. Another buddy, Anthony Kennedy, 27, of Collingdale, who films all their stunts, offered commentary as he recorded.
"Bread in the basket! Bada Bing!" Kennedy yelled after successful catches.
A boy in a New England Patriots jersey who looked no older than 12 walked by and asked, "What is this?"
"Nothing for a Tom Brady fan," Regan said. "Keep moving."
Of course, the Patriots fan and his friends stayed to watch. Other passersby took out their phones to film, and little kids stopped to watch.
"Nick Foles can't even make passes that good!" Kennedy yelled. "This man needs a marshmallow sponsorship!"
"Well, I was born in Delaware County and stayed here my whole life and I will probably never leave. I love it here."
"Classic Philly moment was probably when we caught a marshmallow off the Ben Franklin Bridge. That was pretty cool."
"For the Sixers and the Flyers to bring it home, just like the Iggles did this year."