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!
Mark is a dedicated real estate enthusiast and construction expert with a career spanning more than 35 years. His passion lies in advancing innovation and liaison practices within the industry. Mark’s life took a drastic turn when he experienced a life-altering event that left him paralyzed from the chest down. But that didn’t stop him. He has embraced his new lifestyle with resilience and emerged as a strong advocate for accessibility and inclusion for individuals with disabilities.
With his extensive background in the built environment and firsthand experience as a tradesman and organizational leader, Mark possesses a unique perspective on the industry. As a real estate developer and owner’s representative service provider, he leverages his diverse skills to ensure effective communication and successful project delivery. Mark understands the importance of eliminating assumptive thinking and fostering clear, open lines of communication among stakeholders in the built environment.
Mark’s commitment to accessibility and inclusion is influenced by collaboration with subject matter experts who share his vision. He recognizes that achieving desired outcomes requires breaking down barriers and promoting understanding among all parties.
Through his advocacy work, Mark aims to promote accessibility and create an inclusive environment for people with disabilities across all aspects of his trade. His resilience and unwavering passion drive him forward, even in the face of challenges. Mark is determined to use his expertise and personal experiences to make a positive impact and improve the lives of others.
In summary, Mark is a real estate enthusiast and construction expert who, despite facing personal challenges, remains dedicated to advancing accessibility, fostering communication, and creating a more inclusive built environment. His wealth of knowledge and unwavering commitment make him a valuable advocate and catalyst for positive change.
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.”
Before his life-altering injury, Dyllan’s world lacked purpose. Each day felt monotonous, empty, and devoid of accountability. Dyllan wore a protective mask, shielding himself from the world’s demands. Toxic habits deepened his sense of being adrift, and despite recognizing his self-sabotage, he lacked the motivation to break free.
But fate had other plans. That fateful night of the injury became Dyllan’s salvation. Emerging from the SICU bed, he resolved to make every day count instead of merely counting the passing days. Adopting the mindset of a Disabled But Not Really adaptive athlete, he embarked on a transformative journey of self-discovery and growth.
Disabled But Not Really disability wellness services supported this journey. Dyllan found solace in the empowering community surrounding him. The organization’s dedicated team provided the tools, guidance, and encouragement to reveal his true self.
Through the DBNR Help Me Fit program, Dyllan redefined his limitations. He discovered new passions and pursuits, defying his disability to thrive. Adaptive sports, fitness programs, and a holistic wellness approach helped him break free from the chains of his past. Dyllan embraced his newfound abilities and celebrated his inner strength.
No longer trapped in a repetitive cycle, Dyllan emerged as an inspiring figure for others facing similar challenges. His journey from self-sabotage to self-empowerment showcased the transformative impact of Disabled But Not Really. Dyllan’s story offered hope, proving that one can rise above adversity and live a purposeful life.
Continuing his pursuit of personal growth, Dyllan carries the lessons learned from his past. He vows never to conceal his true self again. Through an ongoing partnership with Disabled But Not Really, Dyllan pushes boundaries, defies expectations, and inspires others on their own journey of self-discovery.
Dyllan’s connection with Disabled But Not Really not only transformed his life but also ignited a passion for advocating disability health, wellness, and inclusivity on a broader scale.
Corey, a resilient 43-year-old native of Kansas City, Missouri, has endured a life-changing incident that shaped his path. During a gathering with friends in St. Joseph, Missouri, tragedy struck when Corey was shot in the back. Though he survived, he faced a grueling recovery that spanned nearly four months in intensive care.
Now, nineteen years later, Corey has confronted a multitude of health issues, mental struggles, and other various obstacles that accompany a spinal cord injury. His unwavering determination, the support of his family, friends and children, have been the driving forces behind his perseverance.
Corey finds joy in traveling, cherishing moments with loved ones, serving the community, indulging in sports and playing poker. His thirst for knowledge led him to become a college graduate, and he has now emerged as a mentor, entrepreneur and soon-to-be author. His upcoming book/memoir titled “25 To Life” is scheduled for release in the Summer of 2023.
Corey’s future aspirations include working closely with youth, delivering impactful speeches, nurturing his entrepreneurial endeavors, and creating new and meaningful experiences. Above all, Corey yearns to live a full life and fervently holds onto his dream of regaining what he has lost. He hopes that a cure for spinal cord injuries will become a reality in the near future.
Corey’s remarkable journey, marked by resilience and an indomitable spirit, serves as an inspiration to all. Through his words, actions, and unwavering determination, he aims to make a profound difference in the lives of others while leaving a lasting mark on the world.
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!”
Keisheona, also known as Kei, is a 32-year-old paraplegic mother of three. In September 2018, she became a victim of gun violence while she was five months pregnant with her fourth child. Unfortunately, the child did not survive. Despite this tragic event, Keisheona continues to persevere and is currently a student at Washburn Technical Institute studying graphic design. She has always been self-conscious about her weight and appearance, but since being in a wheelchair, she has noticed that she has gained a significant amount of weight and is out of shape. Her main goals are to be as healthy and independent as possible, and to feel more confident in her appearance. Keisheona is determined to overcome these challenges and improve her overall well-being.
Meet Leticia, a 28-year-old individual who has faced a significant challenge in their life. In [year], Leticia was out driving when their car was randomly shot at multiple times. They were hit once and spent a week in the ICU, followed by a month in inpatient rehab and approximately two months of outpatient rehab. Their injury is classified as L1/L2 incomplete, and the most significant setback has been intense nerve pain, which has not been alleviated by any treatment from the doctors.
Despite the injury, Leticia has slowly seen muscle return in their legs, but they are still quite weak, especially on the right side. Determined to improve their strength, Leticia started therapy again at the end of January 2022, for an hour once a week, which will end on April 13th.
Leticia has also decided to take on the Help Me Fit Challenge with the goal of becoming strong and gaining self-discipline by pushing themselves past their limits and getting out of their comfort zone. Until now, they have been focused on their role as a mother, daughter, and sister and have not been taking care of themselves as they should. Leticia recognizes that this is not enough for the kind of life they want to live and the person they want to become. They have many goals and dreams, and they are determined not to let their pain dictate what they can and cannot do. Leticia is on a mission to take control of their health and well-being, and the Help Me Fit Challenge is an important step in that journey.
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.”
Meet Elizabeth, a determined and resilient individual who has faced and overcome significant challenges in her life. Elizabeth is a C4/C5 incomplete spinal cord injury survivor, due to a fall from a golf cart where she was a passenger. The accident happened on August 5, 2021, during a vacation in Key West, Florida. She was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami for emergency surgery to fuse C4/C5 and remove a disk. Following surgery, Elizabeth was transferred to the Christine E Lynn Rehab Center for a 30-day intensive, comprehensive therapeutic program.
Through her determination and hard work, Elizabeth re-learned how to walk and use her arms and hands for basic daily living skills. After completing the program, she returned to her hometown of Kansas City and enrolled in a 12-week day program at Ability KC. She continued her recovery by self-directing her treatment program, with OT, adaptive CrossFit, Next Step, mental health therapy, and massage therapy.
Elizabeth’s recovery has been nothing short of miraculous. She can run, walk, drive and do most things independently, except for some limitations in her arms and hands due to weakness in her shoulders and upper body. Despite her injury, Elizabeth is determined to stay fit and trim, and has set goals to drop a few pounds, lose some inches, and make new friends. She was a college tennis player and used to play at a relatively high level before her injury and has completed twelve 1/2 marathons and one marathon. Elizabeth is still searching for a replacement for the sport in her life post-injury.
Meet Sonya, a Devic’s Neuro Myelitis Optica (NMO) survivor who has been living with the autoimmune disorder since 1996. At the time of her diagnosis, her life expectancy was only five years, but she has since exceeded expectations and continues to live a full life. Despite the challenges of being in and out of wheelchairs and hospitals, Sonya has been able to achieve many accomplishments.
In 1998, Sonya returned to full-time work and continued until 2018. However, in November 2018, she took a fall that caused her to spend most of 2019 in and out of the hospital and rehab units. As a result, she has been in a wheelchair ever since and has not returned to work.
Despite these challenges, Sonya has been able to raise her son and niece, both of whom she put through college. She also got married and completed her Bachelor’s degree and MBA. Despite her divorce, she is determined to get back some of what she has lost in herself and is determined to overcome the depression that comes with being unemployed and on SSDI.
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 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.”