Overcoming Every Obstacle

Dave working out using lifting hooks

Dave Mathis has run multiple 5k races, has a job in a call center, and an associate’s degree in community services and social work. Dave is successful from anyone’s point of view, but it is everything Dave has overcome that makes his story so special.

Dave was born with a rare genetic condition. He was not able to sit up until he was five years old, or walk until age seven. He was a camper at Easter Seals Iowa Camp Sunnyside at the time he was learning to walk, and shared what camp meant to him. Dave says, “I liked going to camp because I could blend in with everyone else who had challenges or disabilities. I didn’t have to pretend to be someone else; I could be myself.”

Dave working out with parallel bar

Learning to walk was only the beginning of Dave’s success story. During his school years he overcame so many challenges by advocating for himself, and getting the assistance he needed to graduate. Recently Dave has been completing and more and more goals. Dave started working out, and then personal training with Joe Hogan, founder of Train to Inspire.

The two worked together to perform what is truly an unbelievable success, a man who had been using a wheelchair, now completing a 5K. While training, Dave and Joe used health and wellness devices from the Easter Seals Iowa Assistive Technology Center, including lifting hooks and a parallel support bar.


Dave inspired Joe so much, that Joe decided to start a new program, Train to Inspire. Train to Inspire helps people with special needs socialize and participate in physical activities.

The organization hosts a variety of events from laser tag to rock climbing and everything in between. This amazing organization was all because Dave’s hard work and determination inspired Joe.

Dave never gives up. He says, “It’s amazing how I got where I am today. I look back and go wow, and I want to help others. I want to be able to give back what people have given me or inspire others; I did his and you can too. Staying in the same place is boring. If you stop learning or trying new things, you can get in a rut and let life pass you by.”

For more information about Train to Inspire, visit www.traintoinspireiowa.org.

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