Kyle Welch

“My life has seemed like a continual struggle,” Kyle said. “In 2008, I was 22-years-old, weighed nearly 400 pounds and worked a job I had no real interest in. I basically had no idea what I wanted to do in life, but I knew I wasn’t doing it.”

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Robin Holtry

“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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Adam Field
Ana Alvez

“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

“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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Mike Linstead

“I’m an ex-alcoholic and drug addict who also lost his own stomach to stomach cancer at age 22,” Mike said. “I’ve gone from being homeless and living under a bridge in California at 25-years-old to becoming a married homeowner at 30.

“I’ll never give up. Ever.”

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Adam Melson

“I’ve always been big for my age,” Adam said. “I used to get teased for being overweight when I was younger. So much so, that I would go home and cry to my mom that I was afraid I'd never have any friends.” 

Adam developed internal scars and strength through his adversity. Instead of fighting how he was naturally built, he embraced it. 

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Erik Plate

“I went into a rage,” Erik said. “I destroyed a door and put my fist through the wall with all of the anger directed at my stepfather since he was indirectly the cause of all of this. I still have the scars on my right hand from putting my fist through a wooden door and ripping it off its hinges. I spent the next three years living in a stupor. I lived off an inheritance, ate so much that I ballooned to 325 pounds, and became very antisocial while playing video games for 12 hours a day and becoming more and more suicidal with each passing day.”

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Vince Maier

Vincent’s significant other, best friend, lover and girlfriend of two years had taken her own life.

“I came home that night, after an argument that morning to be greeted by silence,” he said. “Not only did she die, but a part of me did, too. She was the most beautiful, loyal, caring, compassionate, selfless, and empathetic person I had ever known. We’d stay up until the early mornings just talking. Sharing. Laughing.”

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Daniel Lubick

After coming home, Daniel relied on drugs and alcohol to escape life and all its emotions. If he’s honest with himself, drugs and alcohol helped him escape, literally, everything. 

“I gave up jobs, family, friends and myself for a very long time,” he said. “I began getting DUIs at the age of 26. I racked up four within 10 years. The last one was in 2012. I was at the point in life where I wanted to die.”

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Jonathan Long

“I was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma,” he said. “That was about eight years ago. Never did I think that was the end for me. I knew that I would fight and overcome it. That’s exactly what I did.”

In fact, not only did he overcome it, he competed in his first Scottish Highland Games just 18 months after his surgery. 

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Erin Doherty

“For the rest of my high school education, I was in and out of treatment facilities for Anorexia Nervosa and Exercise Bulimia,” she said. “I became addicted to feeling empty, fragile and weak. I severely restricted my intake and would run until I burnt off double whatever minuscule amount I consumed. Although I was tired, I was constantly chasing the high that my eating disorder gave me. I was no longer living for myself; I was either eating to please other people or succumbing to the voice in my head. I was completely disconnected from my body and in denial that what I was doing could have serious repercussions.”

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Daniel Mullens

“That’s when they found how big my heart was,” he said. “They diagnosed me with hemihypertrophy disease. I always knew there was something wrong – I had a size 22 left shoe and size 18 right shoe – but I didn’t realize it was my heart.”

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Juan Cervantes

“My story begins after my last deployment to Iraq in November of 2006,” APEMAN Juan Cervantes said. “My struggles with dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and multiple attempts and thoughts of suicide, and how my wife has been by my side the entire time even before she was my wife.”

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Branden Bertero

“My father died when he was just 35, I was only seven-years-old,” Branden said. “I grew up in a broken home and we were very poor. I was hurt. Angry. Developed trust issues. I don’t think I ever really recognized how angry I was.”

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Shaun Gill

For Shaun Gill, anger led him to a pivotal crossroads in life.

“My mom was sick for nearly 20 years,” he said. “But for the last eight years of her life, from about 2008 – 2016, she was bedridden and had to be fed, taken to the bathroom and helped in the shower.”

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Laura Cabrera

“Being disappointed is such a painful thing,” Laura said. “All the lost hopes and dreams shattered right in front of you as you learn the painful truth. I never knew of such pain and hurt. But, I took it one day at a time. Walking through the darkness and uncertainty using fear to fuel my courage to remain strong for myself and my son. I need to be his strong mom. He is my biggest motivation. All these weeks of failure and success have culminated into my first powerlifting meet.”

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Chad Church

“I want people to understand that just because you don't look like the other people in class, in the gym, on the street, or whatever that you can still try,” he said. “People will tell you that you shouldn't be doing something but there might be that one person or one event that tells you that maybe, just maybe, you should at least give it a try. That changed my life.”

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Cory Brown

For all of his adult life, Cory Brown struggled with drug addiction and alcoholism. He’d been in and out of rehab centers and jails since he was 15. For years, he never knew anything other than just staying high. 

“I’ve overdosed three times,” he said. “Drank myself to an oblivion on a daily basis. Destroyed my connection with my parents and two brothers, but ultimately they never gave up on me.”

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Paul Sharp

The relentless bullying and harassment Paul subsequently endured intensified after he started wearing his brace. Being beat up in the halls of junior high school was a normal thing, and he became very depressed and introverted.

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Doug Sloan

In March of 2017, he was diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes. Over time, this type of diabetes can wreak havoc on major organs in one’s body, including the heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Eventually, these complications can be disabling or even life-threatening.

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