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What Motivates You to Do What You Do?

I get asked all the time what motivates you to do what you do. Being that it is cancer awareness month let's start there.

It was 1997. Almost 22 years ago I started training strongman. Soon after I started promoting strongman events. I was in love with this sport. Coming off a 12 year "successful" powerlifting career, I did pretty well in making the transition to strongman. My first contest was Strongest man alive in 1998 and it was a NASS (North American Strongman Society, for you youngsters!) sanctioned event. In 2000 Bill Holland asked me the be the MO state Chair. I went on to win NASS Nationals in 2000 and 2001. After the 2001 season ended I spoke with Bill about taking over NASS. On February 1st 2002 I owned and started running NASS. I stepped down from competing to run the sport I loved. I had a lot of idea's on how to grow strongman. In 2002 I spent my entire saving to fly to contest and recruit state chairs and promoters from all over the US. In September of 2002 I hosted my first NASS Nationals. I was a successful year.

Soon after the contest, I believe in late October, I started feeling extremely tired. I was sleeping 12 hours a day easily which is not like me at all. By chance I went in for my annual check up on a Wednesday. On Friday I received a call from the doctors office. "We need to to come to the emergency room now!". I of course was asking what is wrong? I was at school teaching as usual. I asked my principal for a sub and left for the hospital. When I got there they asked me who drove you. I said, "I did. Why?" My red blood cell count was very low. At my age the it should have been 12 to17 or whatever, and it was 4.

Now the testing began. It took almost two months before they figured out I had A.L.L. Which is a child hood form of Leukemia. They gave me two weeks to six months to live. They told me with treatment I had a 25% chance of survival. This all happened on a Friday January 2nd 2003. I was admitted on that following Monday the 5th. My girls were 1 and 2 years old at the time. I was devastated. I'm the provider and now running NASS. All kinds of thoughts ran through my head. Through it all I had God telling me Never give up, Never quit. 2003 was a very hard year on me and my family.

From the bad came a lot of good. In 2004 we were able to get the 105kg MW class launch. Now I had a goal. That's right: never give up, never quite. I started chemo in January of 2003 and ended it in December of 2005. At first I thought I'll make a comeback in 2005 and take a crack at that 105kg class. God had other plans for me. Late in November of 2003 I got to be on the David Letterman show. They had me do stupid human tricks. Ben Lambosis met me there and we came up with some fun stuff. David loved it. Yes I was still on Chemo. I thought to myself if I can do that why not make a run at the 105kg title in 2004. Through the help of many friends I trained my ass off for this spot. I qualified in April 2004 by 1point for the finals in August in Texas. The first ever America's Strongest 105kg.

1. Goal one beat cancer.

2. Goal two qualify for ASM 105.

3. Goal three was to place top three.

Being on chemo this entire time made it hard to eat. Nothing tasted good and not much stayed down if you know what I mean. I was back to teaching and running NASS which later changed to NAS. I had three months more to train for ASM 105.

I was going in for treatments and blood work every week while doing my best to get back to a normal schedule. My guys pushed me hard. Several friends flew in to train with me. They kicked my butt. It all paid off in August of 2004. I was in shock when I found out I had a four point lead going into the last event. My good friend Jared Spybrook walked up to me and said, " You can win this man". I was 40 at the time and now going to WSM 105kg in November. Yes I was still on Chemo.

This just goes to show anything is possible. Your never to old, never to hurt to come back and do what you love. God has been very good to me. Thank you to everyone who help me get through that time in my life.

So when you ask me, What motivates you to do what you do? Faith, Family, Friends and a never give up never quite attitude.

Your President,

Willie Wessels


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