What do you live for? What is your drive? These are questions that everyone must ask themselves, and in order to succeed, you must remain brutally honest. All walks of life will face challenges in their time on this Earth, but it is how you tackle the challenges that will define you. I take on ALL challenges with nothing less than a winnable perspective, a warrior mindset and I refuse defeat!

“We never gave up. We never felt like we were losing until we were actually dead.” – Marcus Luttrell

I live that warrior mindset. So many people fall short by underestimating the power of a positive, no-quit mindset. Early in life, it was discovered I suffered from Legg Calve Perthes. The disease limits blood flow to the hip causing the bone to become brittle and eventually fail. My hip did shatter and land me in a wheelchair for years. Doctors feared because of the extensive damage and my young age, I may never walk again and would most likely require prosthetics. I refused to accept this dismal scenario and pressed forward. As I made remarkable progress, begin to rehabilitate and walk, an unbearable pain emerged in the same leg around my knee. A return to the doctor discovered a large bone tumor eating nearly 75% of bone mass. I returned to my wheelchair accepting the new challenge. Surgery successfully followed removing all traces of the tumor. A long, difficult road remained ahead. Did I whine or feel sorry for myself? I refused! In fact, when the rest of my class ran the mile in school, I completed it in ten minutes in a wheelchair! Blisters were plentiful, but you couldn’t remove the smile from my face!

“Each Warrior wants to leave the mark of his will, his signature, on important acts he touches. This is not the voice of ego but of the human spirit, rising up and declaring that it has something to contribute to the solution of the hardest problems, no matter how vexing!” – Pat Riley

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As I had done before, some five years later I was walking on my own. I wasn’t content. I began to run, and run often. I pushed myself to the limit constantly needing a new goal to trump my previous conquered goal. Even in my teens, I always fought with myself mentally. My body screamed to stop, yet I told myself to push. I have always been proud of my unwavering determination.

Let’s fast forward to my adult life and my career in law enforcement. The challenges before me would have crumbled many, but remained resilient. Running became my Zen, my focus. I was never the fastest or strongest, but I refuse to quit. That warrior mindset is the very reason I am still here to talk to you today. I was brutally attacked and viciously bitten by an AIDS patient in 2008, leaving me fearing for months that I had contacted the disease in the blood-on-blood transfer. Even though the onslaught of prescription antivirals, I found the will to run. I ran to clear my head, to keep my focus. If I was going out, I was going with a bang! Six months later I was officially cleared and healthy! What a blessing!

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My path, however, was not clear sailing. In 2009, a distracted motorist believed to have been texting crashed into my squad rendering me unconscious and seriously injured. I suffered a broken neck with serious intrusion on my nerve stem. I was informed that even with the required reconstructive surgery, I would never police again and there was a very real possibility I may not be able to walk. As with anything else in my life, this was unacceptable! The following surgery was a success and I began my new journey back. Nine months after the accident, I passed a physical assessment harder than my original academy test, was cleared for full duty, and later awarded the Purple Heart. The prosthetics in my neck took serious getting used to, but I pushed forward.

“Fight with a happy heart and strong spirit.”- General James Mattis USMC Ret.

I eased back into my running to reacquire my focus. Unfortunately, the darkest of days were to come. In December 2010, my friend, my wingman, my partner was gunned down in cold blood. The walls began to crumble. I battled those demons for months. I second-guessed what I could have done, what could have prevented it, but eventually, I accepted my friend’s early demise, and that fact he would not allow me to remain in my dark place. In fact, he would have kicked my ass for not getting back in the good fight! I gained considerable weight after Chad’s death, so I decided to set a new goal – get back to my academy weight. In just over two months, I dropped more than forty pounds due to my nutrition and some serious running. Running has always been that staple, my go-to. After losing my desired weight, the next goal was lowering my run times.

When I graduated from the police academy, I ran the mile in approximately eight minutes. Not a fantastic speed, right? What would you say if I told you just this month; I ran the mile in 7:40? You read correctly. I run the mile faster now than I did in considerably better health and less metal in my body. I refuse to accept I can’t do something. All of my victories have been achieved with a warrior mindset. Everyone must find their own inspiration and motivation. I count my blessings, not my defeats and I continue to live life at it’s fullest. NEVER accept defeat and ALWAY push! Running continues to be my Zen, my focus, and before Thanksgiving of this year, I will conquer a sub-seven minute mile. When the exhaustion kicks in and that little devil sits idly on your shoulder convincing you to cave, FIGHT ON! Live life, laugh loud, love hard, and ALWAYS push!!

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