Former NFL player David Vobora trains physically impaired men and women like elite athletes.
When former NFL linebacker David Vobora first laid eyes on U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills at a friend’s birthday party eight years ago, it was one of those “across the room” moments. He walked over to meet him right away. “I was amazed at how well he was moving on prosthetics,” says Vobora, who comes from three generations of Marines, but went into football instead. “I asked him, ‘When’s the last time you worked out?’ and Mills, who’s one of only five surviving quadruple amputees from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, said, ‘I don't have any arms and legs. I don’t know if you see that.’”
Unfazed by Mills’ physical challenges, Vobora invited him to visit his gym in Carrollton, Texas, for a personalized workout. He designed a customized nine-week program that focused on what Mills could do: exercises that had to do with weight transfer, along with ones that would build core strength and stability. “Mills was a former high school football star, and after that, a star athlete in the military,” Vobora says. “When I started calling these people with disabilities ‘athletes,’ they began to see themselves that way.”
Word got out among the veteran community, and later that year, Vobora established the nonprofit Adaptive Training Foundation (ATF) to help other quadriplegics like Mills — along with amputees, paraplegics, people with spinal cord injuries, cancer, and even neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and MS — who wanted to train like elite athletes again. They finish the program physically stronger and leave with a sense of belonging and renewed self-confidence.
“If you treat someone like they’re broken, they’ll act broken,” says Vobora, who’s expanded the program to include civilians, too. “We aim to restore hope through movement.”
Find out more: adaptivetrainingfoundation.org