Thanks to generous donations of time, money, and resources, we’ve been able to positively influence #helpmefit challenge athletes. We’re proud to brag about our adaptive athletes and share in the celebration of their humbling accomplishments. Check out our featured stories, and cheer on them on!
#HelpMeFit was born out of Wesley Hamilton’s personal experience. Read more about his amazing experience!
An entrepreneur pushing past his limits
Originally from Kansas City, Kansas, Adeleke now lives on the Missouri side. He suffered from a severed spinal cord after a gunfire injury that occurred when he was 18. But Adeleke has applied his entrepreneurial mind by starting his own graphic design, vinyl, and sign shop while also going to business school. Oh yeah, and he is an adaptive athlete! Adeleke’s entrepreneurial spirit was inspired by the #HelpMeFit Challenge because the Challenge inspired him to “get involved with my surroundings” beyond the gym walls. The Challenge helped Adeleke develop a sense of pride and built his endurance to keep pushing past his limits. He said he was able to utilize the lessons and morals developed beyond the gym as he integrated them into his daily life. Adeleke’s next challenge is to tackle the War Horse Games. Setting aside his motivation to push his own limits, Adeleke said there is one thing he would love the world to know about being disabled, which is that “wheelchairs are sexy!”
Hello, My name is Keisheona I also go by Kei (Key). I’m a 32 year old paraplegic mother of 3. September 2018 I was a victim of gun violence while I was 5 months pregnant with my 4th child who unfortunately didn’t survive. I’m also a student at Washburn Technical Institute for graphic design. I’ve always been self conscious about my weight and appearance, but since being in a wheelchair I’ve noticed that I’m gaining too much weight and I’m out of shape. It’s important to me to be healthy and as independent as possible, as those are my main goals including to feel more confident in my appearance.
I’ll be 28yrs old this year, and come June, and it’ll have been 2 yrs since my injury. I was out driving when my car was randomly shot at multiple times; luckily, I was only hit once. I spent about a week in the ICU, maybe a month in inpatient rehab, and approximately two months of outpatient rehab. My level of injury is L1/L2 incomplete. I have some intense nerve pain, which I feel has been my most significant and only setback. Nothing the doctors have done or prescribed has helped at all.
Since outpatient rehab, I’ve slowly seen more muscle return in my legs, but they are still pretty weak—especially the right side, which I can barely wiggle. Before, I couldn’t feel or move the right side at all, though. Since I can now extend my left leg out, I spoke to my doctor and asked about returning to therapy to try and make my legs stronger. So I started that up again at the end of January 2022. It’s just been for a little less than an hour once a week, though. My last day of that will be April 13th. This led me to sign up for the Help me fit Challenge.
My goals with the Help Me Fit Challenge are to become strong and gain self-discipline by pushing myself past my limits and getting out of my comfort zone. Until now, I have just been trying to do the bare minimum as a mother, daughter, and sister and when it comes to taking care of myself. Which is just not acceptable or will be enough for the kind of life I want to live and the person I want to be. I have many goals and dreams, and none will become a reality if I allow this pain to decide what I can and can’t do.
My name is Tyra Randle and I’m a 2 year paraplegic and domestic violence survivor. January 15th of 2020 I was shot 8 times in my home by my son’s father. Since then I have devoted my life to being an advocate for domestic violence survivors as well as the disabled community. I’ve worked with the Christopher Reeves Foundation on numerous occasions as well as a peer mentor for the United Spinal Cord Association. I’m also on the advisory committee for the United Spinal Cord Association. I’m currently in the process of creating my own foundation for domestic violence victims. I’m currently enrolled to go back to school this fall for my paralegal degree and then venture off into becoming a lawyer. I want to fight on both sides for the disabled community as well as for gunshot victims and domestic violence survivors.
A KC local contributing to his community
A KC native, Michael Minor, currently resides in Waldo. Twenty years ago, a gunshot wound damaged Michael’s T4-T5 vertebrae. Michael has not let his injury stop him—he’s completed the #HelpMeFit Challenge and stays busy with his job in local government. Michael said that in his life post-injury, he doubted his abilities. Yet, as an adaptive athlete, Michael feels thankful to have achieved more success than he ever imagined. He completed the #HelpMeFit Challenge, which he said taught him good workout techniques and increased his awareness of the important role nutrition plays. Beyond the Challenge, Michael has also established a non-profit organization, obtained a Master’s degree, and worked in local and federal government. All of these community-focused accomplishments demonstrate how Michael doesn’t give up. He believes persistence is his strength. He shared that he’s been trying to work on not overcommitting to projects (because he doesn’t like to say no). Yet, Michael knows that there are many things worth supporting. He shared these wise words: “It’s not the disability that one should focus on, but the ability of a person’s focus.”
A C4/C5 incomplete Spinal Cord Injury due to a fall from a golf cart where I was the passenger. The injury happened on August 5, 2021, in Key West, Florida, where my husband and I were vacationing. I was airlifted from Key West to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where I had emergency surgery to fuse C4/C5 and remove a disk. Following surgery, I was transferred directly to the Christine E Lynn Rehab Center, an inpatient rehab connected to Jackson Memorial. I completed a 30-day intensive, comprehensive therapeutic program (daily OT, PT, speech & as-needed mental health, nutrition, and education). At the inpatient facility, I re-learned how to walk and use my arms and hands for some basic daily living skills. I reached some minimal goals and finally was able to return to my hometown of Kansas City. I then enrolled and completed a 12-week-day program at Ability KC. This program was full of exercise, occupational/speech & physical therapy, and group counseling.
I am in what I call phase 3 of my treatment program, and I am self-directing at this point in my recovery. I have OT (traditional & swim) three times a week. I target participating in an adaptive CrossFit program at The Hill three times a week. I am involved in Next Step – soon to be twice weekly for the functional electric stem to increase my strength and helpful ability in my arms and shoulders. I have a mental health therapist whom I work with every week. And finally, I also get a massage once a week to work out the tightness in my shoulders and upper body resulting from my accident.
My recovery is miraculous – some say. I can run (slowly), walk (carefully), drive, and do most things independently, except using my arms and hands in some circumstances due to weakness in the shoulders & upper body. Due to my injury, I also have to be extremely careful when running, walking, and going up and down stairs.
I played college tennis and used to play tennis at a relatively high level before injury (I went to nationals last year); I have completed twelve 1/2 marathons & 1 marathon. I loved playing tennis- everything about it made me happy. The competition, the friendships & the social part, and finally the fitness piece. All three of those things made my heart smile. I have yet to find a replacement for that sport in my life post-injury. I love being fit. I love competition. I love connecting with people.
My current fitness goals are to get fit & trim, drop a few pounds, lose some inches & make solid human connections with new friends.
In 1996, Sonya, was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, Devic’s Neuro Myelitis Optica, or NMO as it is more commonly known today. At that time her life expectancy was about 5 years. At her lowest, she was paralyzed from the chest down. NOW, HERE SHE IS 25 YEARS LATER !!!! She say’s “I’m winning!” Throughout the years my health has been a rollercoaster. In and out of wheelchairs, walkers, hospitals, etc, along with a host of health issues I currently live with today.
In 1998, she returned to full-time work and continued working until Dec. 2018.
In Nov. 2018, I took a fall and my body did not respond well to it. I spent most of 2019 in and out of the hospital, and rehab units. I had 2 surgeries and lots of physical therapy. I have been back in my wheelchair ever since. I have not returned to work.
Prior to the fall in 2018, I was fairly active, albeit with my rolling walker. I now find myself divorced, alone, unemployed and on SSDI. I’m sure I have some level of depression. I made a promise to myself that this is the year I get back some of what I have lost of myself.
Some of my successes while traversing life with the chronic illness:
Raising my son. Putting him through college.
Raising my niece. Putting her through college,
Got married. Then was divorced after 18 years of marriage.
Continuously working at the same employer for 20 years.
Completing my Bachelor’s degree and my MBA.
A courageous and persistent athlete
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Phillip now resides in North Kansas City. Phillip battled gastroschisis after he was born and has since had amputation below the knee. But Phillip’s courage sets him apart. He believes his “strength is having the heart of a lion.” And we’d have to agree. Phillip is currently attending school, playing wheelchair basketball, AND doing weight lift training. He credits the #HelpMeFit Challenge for improving his character and confidence. He finds DBNR founder, Wes Hamilton, inspiring and strives to set an equally powerful example for others. Next up, Phillip has his eyes set on adaptive competitions conscious eating habits. Phillip wants the world to know that you should never give up. And we’re so thankful for his positive mindset.
A compassionate and outgoing adaptive athlete
Anna Sarol calls Lenexa, Kansas home. After a gymnastics injury in 2015, Anna suffered from a spinal cord injury (SCI) that paralyzed her lower extremities. She’s proven that a compassionate and empathetic life is possible despite such challenges. While attending college full-time, Anna also works as a substitute teacher. Anna admits that she can procrastinate, but she’s also a determined individual who is good at advocating for herself and vocalizing her needs. She said, “The SCI community has always brought me a sense of belonging and has taught me ways to make the [lifestyle] transition easier.” One of the main goals she’s pursuing in the #HelpMeFit Challenge is strengthening her core to improve her balance as an adaptive athlete. Following the Challenge, Anna will return to adaptive sports. She believes the world has come a long way in being accessible, but she plans to continue supporting DBNR’s initiatives. She also shares workout and lifestyle tips on her Instagram, so check her out!
Insta: @AnnaSarol // Facebook: PrayForAnnaBoo
A strong and determined Kansan
Trey Matthews hails from Kansas City, Kansas. Despite his paraplegic status after a motor vehicle accident, Trey strives to work out five days each week. He’s still adjusting to the relatively new lifestyle, especially since he’s now more dependent on others for help. But Trey looks to his mother for inspiration: “My mother showed me what hard work is about and what it gets you in life.” The #HelpMeFit Challenge has empowered Trey to learn what he’s capable of and how to work out effectively so he can stay strong and healthy. He will add to the foundation he builds during the Challenge by continuing new workout routines. Trey is on a mission to remind people that he’s still the same person he was before the accident. We know he’ll continue to show the value and results of putting in the effort to live a healthier lifestyle.
A funny, positive Missourian
Originally from Pleasant Hill, Missouri, Kassidy Reed now resides in Lee’s Summit. She has a blood disorder and lupus, which have impacted her overall health. This unfortunately led to blood clotting issues that resulted in amputation below the knee. But Kassidy still has a helping heart, staying busy working as a home health aide and attending school for Interior Design. When it comes to strength, Kassidy says she has good balance, but she definitely misses wearing heels! The #HelpMeFit Challenge is building up her strength, so she doesn’t rely so heavily on her good leg. Beyond fitness benefits, the Challenge has helped Kassidy understand the importance of good eating habits. But she admits it’s tough because she loves to snack. All that said, Kassidy has been inspired to make fitness a priority instead of just a hobby. She chooses to see her disabilities as something that sets her apart rather than something that hinders her.
Instagram: @kasssidy.reed // Facebook: Kassidy Reed
A KC native striving to maintain a positive attitude
Patrick Provance was born and raised in the KC metro area. His Spinal Cord Injury is the in the T5-6 vertebrae, affecting the muscles in the trunk of his body. When asked about how his life has changed since the injury, he said, “How hasn’t it changed would be the better question.” In spite of all of the changes, Patrick participated in the #HelpMeFit Challenge. The Challenge has influenced him to maintain a positive attitude, but he says being an adaptive athlete is still a work in progress. Outside of the Challenge, Patrick is raising his daughter with his fiancé. His newfound confidence has also inspired him to work on new hobbies and career choices. Through all of this, he has realized the importance of advocating for those with disabilities. From Patrick’s perspective, it is important to “give disabled people the option of what they can or cannot do instead of assuming their ability level.”
A Texas transplant challenging perceptions
Brian D. McMillan, a former Landscape Architect, currently lives in midtown KC. It was sixteen years ago that Brian was in a motorcycle accident that caused his Spinal Cord Injury. Despite being in a wheelchair, he continued working as a Landscape Architect. And now he’s enjoying retirement. Brian said his injury slowed him down and made him “more cerebral.” He became more aware of how he was spending his time and who he spent it with. The #HelpMeFit Challenge introduced Brian to Crossfit, which has inspired him to improve his athletic abilities. One of Brian’s strengths is accountability, and he holds himself accountable to be at Crossfit at least three days each week. He knows it’s crucial for building upper body strength to improve his quality of life. Although Brian struggles with follow through at times, he is working with a nutritionist to round out his wellness routines. He said his food diary is changing his “whole relationship with food.” Brian wants others to understand there is more to him than his wheelchair and injury. He participates “in whatever athletic endeavor” interests him—hand cycling, tennis, and snow skiing. To Brian, a disability does not negate all other abilities. It’s that simple advice that he wants everyone to keep in mind.
A veteran Marine advocating for compassion
Theodore “Ted” John is originally from Minnesota but has landed in KC. Ted suffers from PTSD, depression, fibromyalfia, and Gulf War Syndrome, following his time as a Marine in Operation Desert Storm. Retired through the VA, Ted now spends his time helping fellow veterans and volunteering. One of Ted’s biggest challenges has been overcoming depression, self-doubt, and self-sabotage. Ted acknowledges that in the past sometimes he wished he were dead. He said, “I still have my days like that, but they are just days instead of weeks or months.” Ted’s resilience and willingness to learn led him to the #HelpMeFit Challenge. The Challenge taught Ted that he is more capable than he thought. He admits that the Crossfit workouts were intimidating at first. But now, Ted said, “I just show up and give it my all and I am surprised by the results.” The variety that CrossFit offers kept Ted motivated throughout the Challenge. Ted wants others to know that disabilities may not always be readily apparent. He used to avoid public events and spaces, personal connections, or participating in society. Although he’s made progress to overcome those challenges, Ted advocates for more compassion in society because, “we have no idea what others’ battles are like.”
An adaptive athlete focusing on giving back
Although Rick Haith hails from Nebraska, he is now a Gladstone resident. The SCI injury to his T4-T8 vertebrae happened in a motor vehicle accident while he was a passenger. Since that life-changing accident, Rick has gone on to become an Adaptive Sports Coordinator for a KC non-profit called The Whole Person. Rick explained that he led a rough life of drug dealing and addiction prior to his accident. He explained that his accident saved his life. Post-injury, Rick was inspired to attend college and to become a therapist. He considers independence, confident, goal-oriented, and empathetic to be his strengths. This is evident from all of the positive contributions Rick has made to the disabled community through his work in adaptive sports. The #HelpMeFit Challenge encouraged Rick to be more aware of what he intakes as “fuel” for his body. He said his diet has changed drastically since the Challenge. Rick has a busy schedule and struggles to find time for himself. But he does push himself to work as hard as he can when he’s in his sports chair and to eat better. Hitting up the tennis courts and focusing on his nutrition have helped Rick lose 30 pounds. What an accomplished athlete!
A KC native committing to a new journey
Katie Garcia calls Pleasant Hill, Missouri home, but she was raised in KC, Missouri. An unfortunate snow skiing accident caused Katie’s SCI to her T10-T11 vertebrae. This accident greatly changed Katie’s life as she is confined to a wheelchair and no longer able to work. She also encounters difficulties in accessing her family and friends’ homes. But Katie has persevered and become an adaptive athlete who does Crossfit and plays tennis. She attributes her success to her adaptability when she encounters a challenge. Katie believes it is important to not take yourself too seriously. When asked about her weaknesses, Katie said that she can be impatient and stubborn, but she does her best to help others in need. The main reasons Katie wanted to participate in the #HelpMeFit Challenge were to become more fit and lose weight. As a result of her hard work, Katie has increased her strength, improved her diet, built endurance, and lost weight. Outstanding! Katie plans to maintain her new lifestyle and continue her fitness journey after such wonderful results. Tennis, Crossfit, and a good diet are all still part of her plans. Katie offered this advice, “No matter what your disability, don’t close yourself off to the world. It’s an effort to get out of bed, clean, and dress yourself each day. But don’t stop there. It’s necessary to get out of your comfort zone and try new things—whether big or small.”