Heartland man with cerebral palsy inspires others in his quest to walk
Every rep and every deep breath are signs of how far Anthony Nguyen has come.
"I was really unhealthy," Nguyen said. "I was 86 pounds, and I wanted to do something different."
That difference in his life is spending several days a week at the gym, hours at a time, to build up his strength.
"We all have barriers," Nguyen said. "We all can break them down if we have belief in ourself and have a wonderful support system."
Nguyen's barrier is a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, affecting the lower half of his body. Right now, he uses a wheelchair to get around the gym. He said through his determination, his leg strength has made leaps and bounds since he got started.
"It's easier to get into the machines and out of the machines, which was really a difficult barrier for me at the very beginning," Nguyen said.
His ultimate goal is to walk without needing his wheelchair one day. It is a mission that has not gone unnoticed.
"It would be hard to find someone in this gym that doesn't know the guy," Ryan Firle said.
Firle is the manager at Genesis Health Clubs. He described Nguyen's journey as inspiring, calling him a guy who does not quit.
"Tony is literally here all the time," Firle said. "He's not just here, I mean, puts in the work, and he's here for a couple of hours. He doesn't complain."
Whether he is working his legs in the gym or in the pool, Nguyen calls his life-changing process a dream.
"My legs are getting stronger," Nguyen said. "I feel like my dream is coming true. When I go to sleep now, I have this dream where I'm not in a wheelchair anymore. I'm walking just like a normal human being."
While every day is another step closer to that goal, Nguyen wants others to get that same feeling. He said believing in yourself is the first hurdle for any achievement.
"It's not going to happen overnight," Nguyen said. "Just keep at it, and anything is possible if you believe."