BRANDON LITTLETON PUSHED THROUGH HIS FATHER’S TRAUMATIC DEATH TO CARE FOR HIS MOM AND FAMILY

“I needed to run,” he said. “I needed to escape, and I knew my body was ready for me to make that move. My plan was to make a run for the neighbor’s house who was a police officer. I knew he could have helped. Done something to control the situation. But I just sat there with this feeling of absolute fear in my mind, stomach and arms. It paralyzed me.” 

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DJ HURST WENT FROM BEING ADDICTED TO HEROIN AND WEIGHING 159 POUNDS TO PULLING 750 FROM THE FLOOR

“I wasn’t some working guy with a pill habit,” DJ said. “I was the epitome of what you’d think of if you heard the word ‘junkie.’ All the way out there; a daily miserable existence. One day I decided that I was tired of getting my ass handed to me and made a decision to get clean. I didn’t have the luxury of going to a treatment center. I did it myself. No detox meds. No rehab. Just guts and grit.”

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TALON BURKE BATTLED THROUGH MULTIPLE DEATHS IN HIS FAMILY FROM DRUGS TO BREAK THE CYCLE OF ADDICTION

“I lived with my foster family for about a year, then my dad regained custody of me and I lived with him for a little bit until my dad and stepmom got a divorce,” Talon said. “My dad wasn’t able to care for me again, so dropped me off at my grandmother’s house, who formally adopted me at age 7. That’s when my dad went to prison on drug charges.”

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46% OF SCOTT SMOOT’S BODY WAS COVERED IN THIRD DEGREE BURNS, GOES ON TO WIN MULTIPLE POWERLIFTING COMPETITIONS

“I rolled as soon as I felt the heat,” Scott said. “I stood up thinking I had eliminated anything burning, and as fate would have it, my pants and shirt were ablaze. The gas was soaked into my pants. I rapidly removed my clothes which was my only alternative. I managed to control my breathing to prevent shock from setting in. My father activated 911 as my grandfather used an extinguisher to put the fire out.”

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BROCK KLAHOLD FOUGHT THROUGH DIABETES, A BROKEN ANKLE AND A HERNIATED DISC IN JUST FIVE YEARS

“His diabetes was always a battle, often struggling during games because of either highs or lows, but never giving up,” Philip said. “All of Brock's hard work payed off and he was recruited by a number of Division III colleges.”

The challenges were not over for Brock, though. Later in his senior season, he developed back pain but always fought through it. Everyone thought it was due to lack of flexibility from the weight loss he experienced during his trial with diabetes. 

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Jacob Hendershot overcame multiple serious injuries at only 18 years of age

“My left arm bent inwards, hearing a sickening popping noise as I quickly grabbed my elbow, now back in place as my father and other coaches ran over to me.” Jacob said. “We didn’t know what it was, but I wanted to keep wrestling. The trainer stopped me, telling me to wait and see how it felt. Thank God he did, because in a few hours my arm swelled to twice its size, a large bruise forming at the inside of my elbow as it became stiff.”

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Helene Tremblay Went From 300 Pounds to Women's Physique Competitions

Helene developed a severe case of depression and anxiety. Eventually, it led to the use of prescription medication. 

“It wasn’t until I was about 21 that I fully realized the damage I’d done,” she said. “I was just shy of 300 pounds at 5-4, in a miserable relationship, and was angry and depressed.”  I developed a pretty severe case of depression and anxiety which led to the use of prescription medication.”

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Mark Verity, Overcoming Bullying

“As soon as I put an APEMAN shirt or belt on, I felt like I wasn’t that skinny kid anymore,” Mark said. “I felt like I could grind through anything. I realized it wasn’t about if I was skinny or not, but about improving my self-worth and how I looked at myself every day. I still strive to be stronger but at the end of the day, I’ve found something that helps make me fully happy.”

Not coincidentally, when Mark started gaining confidence through powerlifting, other areas of his life started to drastically improve. He is now happily a music teacher and continuing along his APEMAN journey. 

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Albie Mushaney, From 400 Pounds to the World's Strongest Santa

“It started a few years ago,” Albie said. “My wife and I had our last child. I was 41 at the time. I remember sitting on the floor and I couldn’t put my own socks on; I was 400-pounds and my diabetes was out of control. I thought, ‘I’m going to be 60 when my son graduates high school.’ I don’t know many 400-pound 60-year-olds out there.”

Albie began hitting the gym hard and estimates he lost at least 100 pounds of fat while gaining a ridiculous amount of strength. 

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Robin Holtry Found Strength After the Sudden Loss of His Grandfather

“Back in 2015, I went on a family vacation to Colorado with my mother, sister and grandfather,” he reflected. “On a family rafting trip, my grandfather fell into the cold Poudre river which triggered a heart attack. The day was a blur. I was on a separate raft when we got the signal to make our way to shore, and all I remember hearing is my mother screaming as she frantically held onto my grandfather, so he wouldn’t continue floating down the river. I didn’t have the slightest clue what exactly was happening.”

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Ana Alvez Beat Depression with Fitness

“In 2016 my world came to a halt,” she said. “Not only did my dad fracture his neck in a car accident and nearly died in the VA hospital from a stage 4 bedsore, my brother passed away from cancer.”

Ana struggled on a day-to-day basis trying to be a pillar of strength for her family. On most days, she succeeded. But as we all know, that’s infinitely easier said than done. 

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Iain Hastings, Overcoming Alopecia

“I have a medical condition that I don’t want to go into because it isn’t really relevant, but I lost all of my hair due to it,” Iain said. “It is called Alopecia universalis. I lost all the hair on my body and don’t have the ability to grow any more. When I was diagnosed, I dropped into a severe depression over months and months and got quite unwell. I lost an alarming amount of weight and even attempted suicide.”

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