The ‘Strong(est)’ man in Charles County overcoming the odds
Waldorf resident becomes bodybuilding amputee champion
Despite a tragic car acci- dent that claimed the lives of his wife and unborn child and forever altered his own, Daniel Strong refuses to let his disabil- ity limit his success. The Waldorf man, an amputee, has accomplished his goal of becoming a bodybuilding champion and continues to inspire others.
Strong, founder and owner of Strong Fitness, was born and raised in Waldorf. While playing football at Thomas Stone High School, he devel- oped a love for weight training which led to becoming a personal trainer at a local gym. From there he went on to compete in several bodybuilding competitions both locally and nationally — going from novice to pro.
“I was able to compete against able-bodied indi- viduals in open categories. Last October I placed second in the 2016 NPC Baltimore Classic (open division) and first place in the 2016 NPC Baltimore Classic (open division for 40 and over),” Strong said.
He was the first physi- cally challenged compet- itor in the 2014 INBA/ PNBA Natural Universe (12th place) and INBA/ PNBA Natural Olympia (11th place) contests. Strong previously won third place in the 2012 NPC Maryland State Bodybuilding Championship. In 2014, he won first place overall in the INBA/ PNBA Philip Ricardo Leg- ends overall and went pro.
“Today we are seeing more amputees than ever before around the world. I feel like my message is for anyone who has had any hardship, loss or ailment in their body — my story will help them push forward,” he said.
As Strong experienced many gains in life, he also experienced loss. He and his late wife, Sandra, opened Strong Fitness on Feb. 6, 2006. One month later, a tragic accident involving Daniel, his pregnant wife and their 2-yearold daughter, Danielle, changed his life forever.
“On the way to visit my godmother in North Carolina we got into a tragic accident with a tractor trailer hitting our vehicle. Waking up at the hospital I was most concerned about what happened to my wife and daughter. I lost my wife, we lost our unborn baby and I was in- jured. I had fractures (in- cluding a pelvis fracture), broken ribs, a lacerated spleen, and I still have a titanium rod inside of my good leg.”
He is grateful 2-yearold Danielle walked away with no injuries, but the loss of his wife and baby were devastating.
“The gym had only been open for one month and I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Strong said. “Bodybuilding was a chal- lenge for me to continue because I wasn’t sure if I could do it as an amputee.”
Daniel said the support of his family helped him fight his way back day by day.
“The doctors were unable to save his leg [below the knee] and after it was amputated he had to gain strength in his leg while in the hospital [through physical ther- apy],” said his mother, Frances Strong. “Soon after he had gotten several infections so I took him back and forth to the hospital, but I was glad I was still here to do that for him ... I had to tell him to be strong, believe in God and that the Lord would see him through it.”
His sister, Tewana Strong, said after so many years it still hurts to talk about the tragic car acci- dent. She said it was un- believable to see what he went through.
“We had to help bathe him, wash him, turn him and help him heal. He has a lot of faith and that’s what got him through because he is in pain every day, whether he says it or not ... But in order to deal with tragedy, you have to be ready to fight and he fought every day,” Tewa- na said.
His family describes him as strong-willed and loving. They simply admire how he never lets having a prosthetic leg embarrass him during any bodybuilding competitions and how he does everything that other able-bodied individuals can do.
Daughter Danielle, now 13, loves seeing her dad compete.
“I think it’s pretty cool that my dad is an amputee bodybuilder and all of my friends thinks it’s pretty cool too,” she said. “He’s very kind, he motivates a lot of people and I think he’s an inspiration to lots of people ... He almost died and then he lost one of his legs, but now he does stuff that normal people do on a regular ba- sis and even wins competitions.”
Several years after the accident, Daniel learned to walk with a prosthet- ic leg. He then began training and helping individuals with various mental and physical chal- lenges, including fellow amputees. He went back to playing the drums and riding motorcycles and also conquered his fear of competing against people without disabilities.
“My very first com- petition was filled was so much happiness. I worked so hard to obtain that condition and I remembered where I started from. I remember just crying as I received my award. It was overwhelming ... I had become a professional bodybuilder,” Daniel said.
Daniel has a big competition coming up in July at the 2017 NPC Masters National Championship. His sponsors are Metro Prosthetics in White Marsh and P4P (Pound 4 Pound) muscle supplement company. He is also currently writing a book about his life, which he believes will motivate others through telling his story.
“My prosthetic leg opened me up to so many things. It made me work harder,” Daniel said.
Waldorf resident Daniel Strong during a weight training session at his local gym last Wednesday.