Saturday, January 14, 2017

FROM JAN. 15, 2007 ... Never Give Up ... Not Ever, Ever, Ever

   Bob Wieland had an aspiring professional baseball career with the Philadelphia Phillies. Then the US Army drafted him and sent him to Vietnam. “I want to clarify I was very, very happy to serve. I'd serve in a heartbeat again.”
   On June 14th, 1969 his parents received a letter from Cu Chi, Vietnam. Dear Mom and Dad, I'm in the hospital. Everything is going to be O.K. The people here are taking good care of me. Love, Bob. P.S. I think I lost my legs.
   As a combat medic in the Army's twenty-fifth infantry division, Bob had raced across a field to rescue a buddy. “I stepped on an 82-mm mortar round, a weapon intended to destroy tanks. My legs went one direction, my life another. But I survived. If that’s not a miracle, what is?”
   With his legs gone, life was now a new challenge. “I had entered the Army as a two hundred and five pound competitive-weightlifter. And though I now stood only three feet tall, weighing eighty-seven pounds, I was still an athlete. Because ‘athlete’ is not written in your hamstrings or your grip or your pitching arm. It’s written in your heart.”
   Bob began his retraining. Never losing sight of his goal, he became a four time record holder in the bench press with a best lift of five-hundred and seven pounds. For a moment he held the world record but he was disqualified because he was not in proper uniform. He wore no shoes.
   He learned to walk on his hands with size one running shoes --– swinging his body between his arms, one yard at a time
   He walked across America on his arms in three years, eight months and six days from 1982 thru 1986 raising money for hunger relief. He competed in the New York, Los Angeles, and Marine Corp Marathons.  
   He is the only double amputee to complete the gruelling Ironman Triathlon course without the use of a wheelchair.
   In 1996, he completed a six thousand two-hundred mile bike circuit, twice across America.
   “Some people say that it’s as if I forgot to be handicapped. But really it’s that I just never lost sight of my dream: to become a world-class athlete. It's only by the grace of God. I believe it's truly a gift. I was a physical education major at Cal State University at Los Angeles and coached in the National Football League for a couple of years with the Green Bay Packers, so I've always enjoyed fitness and just the challenge that goes along with it that creates some intensity. That's as intense as you can get.”    
    “We always tell people, you know, it's too soon to quit and that's what happens with people's lives sometimes. They face an obstacle, face a barrier and they want to give up.”

   “I’ve been asked many times ‘Why do you do it Bob? What keeps you going?’ My answer: I’m just trying to get to that finish line.”  

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