As someone who has recovered from a severe injury, Army Staff Sergeant Frank Wasson knows fitness is vital to overall wellness. After losing his left leg while serving in Afghanistan in 2010, Frank spent years enduring rigorous rehabilitation. His hard work has certainly paid off – he is now a member of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team and regularly competes in CrossFit competitions. He even completed the grueling 26.2 Bataan Death March in White Sands, N.M., and the 26 mile Grand Canyon Rim to Rim. Wanting to share the athletic abilities and knowledge he gained during his recovery, Frank started strength and conditioning camps for young athletes.
Frank thought of the idea after noticing many of his son’s peers only played baseball or one sport, and he felt training in the off-season would be beneficial for them. “I was inspired to follow through with the program because of my own personal experience of how physical fitness was a huge asset to my physical and mental rehabilitation after my injury,” he says. “I felt that not only would it help our communities’ youth stay active but also help them relieve stress, build a strong mind, and produce confidence through rigorous workouts while implementing a set of values that could be applied in any situation.”
Frank formed the program with an owner of a local CrossFit in West Salem, Oregon. The first year, the program started with 15 boys from the local junior baseball organizations Frank helped coach. There was much interest from parents, so Frank opened the program to both boys and girls from all different sports. They now have 35 total athletes participating.
Frank is already seeing a difference in the kids he teaches. One of his students, Jadey Holcomb, at first disliked the idea of exercising daily. But as she attended Frank’s classes, it grew to be something she really enjoyed. “At times, it can be challenging, mentally and physically, but it is really fun and I’m glad I could do it,” she says.
Receiving a specially adapted custom Homes For Our Troops home will allow Frank to expand the program. The home’s open layout and hardwood floors will make it easier for Frank to get around the home, giving him more energy to put into the program. “I’ll be able to spend more hours with the athletes each class, inspiring and motivating them during workouts,” he says.
Frank intends to continually grow the youth program every year and plans to start a summer camp that introduces education about healthy eating choices. He would like to eventually bring the same program to local teen detention centers as an avenue for them to learn teamwork.
Homes For Our Troops will be building a home for Frank in Oregon. Learn more about his story at www.hfotusa.org/wasson.