Articles

This former NFL player started a gym to help wounded warriors

It's hard enough to get motivated to do PT a few times a week. Try doing it when you're missing a limb . . . or three.


That's how former NFL player David Vobora found the inspiration to shift away from his lucrative training business and lend a helping hand — and add a little bit of inspiration — to vets and others who face the challenges of life-changing injuries.

Marine veteran Brian Aft, left, assists fellow double-amputee Lawrence Green during a workout. (photo by Brandon Thibodeaux) Marine veteran Brian Aft, left, assists fellow double-amputee Lawrence Green during a workout. (photo by Brandon Thibodeaux)

Vobora left the NFL after five seasons when a severe injury scuttled his short career. He then started a personal training business helping serious athletes in Dallas, Texas, dubbed The Performance Vault.

But his life changed when he met former Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, who was injured by an IED blast in Afghanistan. Mills is one of only five living quadruple amputee vets in the U.S.

"I looked at him and I said, 'When is the last time you worked out?' " Vobora recalled. "He looked down at his prosthetics and said, 'I don't want to make you feel like an idiot, but I don't have any arms and legs.' "

That got Vobora thinking.

Not long after his encounter with Mills, Vobora started the Adaptive Training Foundation, which aims to create custom workout programs for amputees that lies somewhere between basic rehabilitation and Paralympic training.

"I realized if Travis is in this position and can't go to a typical gym ... all of these veterans and civilians with physical disabilities — they've sort of been sidelined," Vobora said. "Where do they go ... that has this community to push each other?"

The Adaptive Training Foundation is a non-profit organization that's featured in Starbucks Coffee's "Upstanders" campaign, which aims to highlight inspiring stories of individuals who go above and beyond to inspire positive change in their communities. Produced by Howard Schultz and author Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the Upstart initiative uses video shorts, podcasts, and stories in hopes of raising awareness for causes like Vobora's.

Check out the full story of the Adaptive Training Foundation and others at Starbucks Coffee's Upstanders site.

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