By NICHOLAS SAKELARIS | CoServ
As humans, it’s easy to fail. Fall short of your goals. Think something is impossible.
When you’re an amputee, have suffered an injury to the spine or the brain, and dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it’s even more challenging.
When others feel sorry for you and doctors say you can’t or never will, it can seem insurmountable.
But when you walk through the door at the Adaptive Training Foundation in Carrollton, none of that applies.
There is no pity, no sympathy and no giving up.
The gym puts veterans and civilians with disabilities through a grueling 9-week course that pushes them to the limits of what’s possible.
“We don’t promise anything. But we do say maybe,” said Tayla Moore, chief of operations at the gym. “And it’s crazy how that little shift makes a difference in their life.”
Whether it’s rising out of a wheelchair to walk across the stage at graduation, holding a newborn daughter for the first time or walking your daughter down the aisle at her wedding, the personal trainers at the Adaptive Training Foundation do everything in their power to help their athlete reach their goal.
“There are really incredible miracles going on here,” said Derrick Ross, a retired combat engineer with the U.S. Army. “It’s not just veterans. It’s first responders. It’s civilians, too. We’re all important and we all matter. People from overseas are watching what’s happening at Adaptive Training Foundation.”
Derrick, a veteran and below-the-knee amputee, went through the program and is now a volunteer trainer passing on what he learned to other athletes.
None of the athletes pay a dime to attend ATF, whether they are based locally or come in from out of town. The gym runs entirely on donations from individuals and corporations.
The CoServ Charitable Foundation awarded a $30,000 grant to the organization this year that will help sponsor athletes. The grant came from CCF’s Unrestricted Fund, which is funded by CoServ Employee payroll deductions and events like the CCF Golf Tournament.
Derrick is scared to think where he’d be without the gym. The retired U.S. Army combat engineer served in Iraq and Afghanistan. On August 23, 2011, his armored vehicle was on patrol in Afghanistan when it hit an improvised explosive device (IED) that injured his whole body, especially his left leg. After fighting off multiple infections, doctors had to amputate the lower part of that leg.
“What you guys contribute has an incredible impact throughout this whole area,” Derrick said. “I would probably still be isolating at home. I’ve almost committed suicide so many times. This whole building inspired me so much that I moved here. It literally changed my life. I’m a different human being and it’s because of this place.”
Phillip Quintana is a retired Lance Corporal in the Marine Corps who was serving in Afghanistan in 2005 when his vehicle hit an IED. The explosion tossed him 15 to 20 feet away from the vehicle, compressing his spine and fracturing his leg.
He had 31 surgeries over the next decade before he eventually had to amputate his leg below the knee. But fluid buildup and bone chips continued to cause him pain to the point that he had to be amputated again, this time above the knee.
It was then that he met retired NFL player and Adaptive Training Foundation founder David Vobora, who challenged him to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with him.
Over the next few months, Phillip trained at the gym to prepare himself to climb the mountain. He had an ambitious goal and accomplished it despite battling thoughts of suicide and depression.
“We fall. Even able-bodied people fall,” Phillip said. “It’s how you compose yourself to get back up. Breath through it. You’re stronger than what you think you are.”
Phillip is now a head trainer at the facility but he’s just one of many success stories.
For example, Derrick works with Desmond Blair, who despite not having hands, lifts weights and does a rope swinging exercise with a ferocity most people with hands couldn’t match. He also has a painting that hangs in the gym.
“All you need to do is spend one day in here watching individuals and you’re really going to question yourself,” Derrick said. “These are extraordinary individuals. It will make you think, ‘What am I doing, why can’t I cut out 30 minutes to work out or exercise?’”
Adpative Training Foundation
4125 Old Denton Rd.
Carrollton, TX 75010