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The Next Objective and Weida’s Anytime Fitness – it’s about service

“That's my leg in the bag over there.” Derek Weida

Derek Weida (pronounced WIDE-uh) was a sergeant in the 82nd Airborne.  During his 3rd deployment to Iraq Weida suffered massive gunshot trauma to his right knee during a MOUT operation. Over the course of a year and a half he endured multiple surgeries and repetitive stints of physical therapy. In December '08 the Army ultimately determined there was nothing they could do to rehabilitate him and return him to active, combat-ready status. He was put through a board and discharged from the military.

During 2009 and 2010 he went to jail several times, went to therapy, drank heavily and had no “ambition to be alive”. Says Weida of that time,

“My life was over, in my eyes, you know, there was nothing left to live for, for me. I was angry and depressed and suicidal.”

At a crucial moment in December 2010 one of his veteran friends interested him in a Tough Mudder race – it reinvigorated his spirit, but was the final straw for his still-damaged leg. He ran the Tough Mudder and accomplished the goal, reconnecting with some of his veteran friends and things began to improve. Unfortunately the Tough Mudder finished the damage that bullet in Iraq had started. In 2011 they amputated it, and counter-intuitive as it might sound that's when his life turned around.

“It gave me control of my own life again. My progress simply depended on how far I was willing to push myself…and that's what I'm good at.”

Derek Weida - The Next Objective 5To motivate him and keep him invested in physical therapy his friend signed them up for the next Tough Mudder the following June. Approximately 6 months after losing one of the legs God gave him, Derek ran 6 miles of a Tough Mudder on one that was man-made. he did the other 6 1/2 miles on crutches while carrying his leg in a backpack.

Ultimately he decided to start his own gym in order to “be of service to other people”. That service is something he describes as being missing since his time in the military. He soon started a Crowdfunding campaign to build his own gym. However, after seeing him on the news, Anytime Fitness ‘picked up the tab' through the auspices of ‘Operation Heart First'. Opn Heart First is an Anytime Fitness charity – they're now building Weida's facility, and are actually working now with Weida to use Heart First to help other veterans in the coming years.

Essentially Weida's gym is the pilot program for this initiative – how's that for some awesome second- and third-order effects of one man's willpower and desire to help others?

With the needs of his gym now secured, Weida turned that energy and commitment to a non-profit called “The Next Objective.” Their first goal – to fund a GORUCK Challenge team using Twistrate (more on Twistrate tomorrow).

“We've assembled a team of veterans and first responders, some with missing limbs, others with injuries that are not visible. We will use this opportunity to show the world what we are made of, and to remind ourselves that when we work together, nothing can stop us.”

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His Anytime Fitness club will be staffed by veterans and is intended to be a “beacon for other military veterans to come together…where people can overcome real life challenges.”

“If somebody says ‘seeing the things that you've gone through and you've come out the other side really propelled me to say that I can do this in my own life, and you got me here', that's my new purpose.” Derek Weida

As President of The Next Objective (http://www.thenextobjective.org/ and  https://www.facebook.com/thenextobjective) he helps military veterans and fights against veteran suicide every day. His humility, humor and perseverance should be an inspiration – and perhaps an admonishment – to us all.

Take a few minutes to watch the video and help him in his endeavor. You can support him here.

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