Unbreakable Stories: An FDNY EMT on the Front Lines, a Survivor, and a 'Slob'
One of the things that has always kept us going at Spartan is hearing inspirational stories from members of our community. That's never been truer than in these past six weeks.
Amidst this horrifying pandemic, in which we've faced unprecedented challenges, Spartan has been inundated with remarkable stories of passion, perseverance, grit, and sheer heroism from Spartans all over the globe. You can't even imagine how many of these stories we receive daily. You wouldn't believe it if we told you.
Each week we are going to share five new Unbreakable Stories that are emblematic of the Spartan spirit. If you want to share your Unbreakable Story, fill out this form. You can also tag us, with the hashtag #BeUnbreakable and #UnbreakableStories, on the Spartan Facebook and Spartan Instagram pages.
Unbreakable Stories: 5 Spartan Stories That Inspire Us
I am 45 years old and when I found Spartan in 2015, it changed my life. I have always been athletic and played sports, but I’ll never forget the feeling I had after my first Sprint at Fort Bragg. It was the hardest thing I had ever done and I did a ton of burpees, but when I finished the race, my wife looked at me and said, "Uh-oh. When’s the next one?" Long story short, it got into my blood and I have been a better husband, father, employee, and leader because of it. Now here I am almost 30 races and six Trifectas later, and I can’t imagine my life without Spartan in it! ... Trail running, pull-ups on trees, carrying logs, and lots of burpees have become my comfort zone over the past five years, which comes in handy at a time like this!
Thank you. Your mission has provided me, along with countless others, opportunities to test myself and push myself to limits I didn’t think possible. And at a time like now, when so many things are uncertain, I can still Spartan the f*** up and be ready for whatever obstacle is around the corner.
Related: How Our Partners Are Helping the Community and Giving Back During the COVID-19 Crisis
An FDNY EMT on the COVID-19 Front Lines (Asked to Remain Anonymous)
We are physically and emotionally drained, we can't go back to our families because we are afraid of infecting them, and we can't console family members who just lost a loved one — by simply hugging them — because we are afraid we may catch it or spread it to them. We break down and cry, and pick ourselves up and do it all over again the next day.
Ever since 2015 I've been trying to better myself physically. I'm logging 30-40 miles per week running and going to the gym on days I don't run. I'm 32 and I'm in the best shape of my life. I still get nervous about getting exposed doing my job, but I know I have a better chance [to be healthy] from all the training — for and from — Spartan races! For that, I thank you.
Spartans on the COVID-19 Front Lines: Their Stories, Their Experiences, and Saying Thank You
Kenneth Newcomb, COVID-19 Survivor
Kenneth Newcomb credits Spartan with saving his life. He was unhealthy and needed a push, and Spartan was the motivation that he was looking for. He started to run, train, and race consistently, and in doing so he strengthened his lungs and improved his lifestyle dramatically. Ken and his wife contracted COVID-19 several weeks ago and suffered from shortness of breath, had colds and fevers, and experienced body aches. Both have recovered and are now healthy — in large part, Ken believes, because he had gotten in shape and strengthened his lungs. Had he contracted the virus in his earlier state, it could have proven to be fatal.
Spartan founder and CEO Joe De Sena was moved by Ken’s story, and invited him to do a 1-on-1 Zoom call so they could meet and he could learn more about his incredible transformation. Read the full article here and watch their moving conversation below.
The past two weeks, my brother died of COVID-19, my uncle died, I had to put my dog down, and my wife lost her wedding ring at the hospital (where she works). Then, she tested positive for COVID-19, so I have to have her isolated in my house and I can’t go to work (I’m a firefighter) for two weeks, so I feel like I’m not carrying my share of the load. Oh, and I have to homeschool the three kids under 10 and make things seem normal for them. I’m not in a positive mindset. I think I just went to a different place in my mind. I can’t comfort my parents or niece and nephews, I can’t make my wife better, I can’t find her ring, I can’t bring anyone back from the dead.
But I know all that and I accept all that, and I chose to rise up every day and do what I can do. I’m putting in the work, I’m eating right, I’m doing everything I can for my family and taking care of my kids, and I won’t let this break me, because there's no other choice. If I let it break me, who will be left? I was a slob for almost 20 years and I fixed myself on my own, and I won’t be beaten by circumstance. And I’m pissed that I couldn’t do my Super and Beast, but I know someday — hopefully this year — I will.
Like Kenneth Newcomb, John Madden joined De Sena on one of his Zoom calls with the community. We recommend watching the clip in full, but to watch John share his story, go to the 3:45 mark below.
David McCarter, Jr.
People keeping asking me, "Why do you do this? Why do you put your body through this hell?" It’s pretty simple. I’m tired of being the fat kid. My entire life, I’ve been considered the fat boy. The home I grew up in was very abusive, both physically and emotionally. Typical sob story. I was beat up by my stepmother and called a lot of names. Self-esteem wasn’t exactly high, needless to say.
I promised my aunt Lillian that I’d complete the Beast in 2018. I learned that she had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and wasn’t expected to make it. I told her about my OCR adventures, and that I was one race away from completing my first Trifecta for Spartan. I also told her I was terrified and didn’t know if I could fly to Florida and get it done. She said, "Just do it. Are you done yet? Get it done." I agreed and trained even harder. I flew to Orlando, completed my first Beast, and completed my first Trifecta. I had an outer ear infection, so one of my ears was almost completely closed, and the pain didn’t allow me to sleep that night. I walked into the Beast with about 1.5 hours of sleep! I cried my eyes out when I collected that Beast medal.
I engage in Spartan and other OCRs to become the best that I can be. I’m done being complacent. Thank you and your team at Spartan/Tough Mudder for all you do. I am a Spartan, and will remain so.