52: Diabetes in Haiti

Mackenson Bonnell was born in Haiti and lost his parents as a teenager. He became the caretaker of his younger siblings, and eventually developed Type I Diabetes when he was living at an orphanage. He was adopted by US parents and together they formed Kay Mackenson which is a clinic in Haiti that provides treatment and education to Haitians regarding diabetes. Mackenson just finished his collegiate career in soccer and is hoping to attend physical therapy school in the near future. In this episode:

  • Growing up in Haiti
  • Losing his parents at a young age and becoming the caretaker of his siblings at 13 years old
  • Having faith and trusting God throughout his loss
  • Learning English at the orphanage
  • Waiting 3 years to get adopted and live in the United States
  • Diagnosed with Type I Diabetes at 17
  • Forming the Kay Mackenson Clinic – Providing healthcare and diabetes education to Haitians
  • Overcoming the culture shock of transitioning to small town Texas
  • Earning a position on a collegiate soccer team without playing high school soccer

You can find out more information about Mackenson’s clinic at https://www.kaymackenson.org/ and you can follow him on Instagram @mpbonnell

You can grab a copy of my book, Underdog – True Stories of Overcoming Adversity, which features 10 stories from the first 40 episodes of the podcast at www.underdogpc.com/book, or on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

51: Walking for a Fix with Brett Bramble

Brett Bramble has been affected by the harmful side effects of drug abuse both directly and indirectly. He was arrested and sentenced to 18 months in prison for drug possession, and lost his sister, Brittany, to a drug overdose shortly after he was freed from prison. He decided to take action against drug addiction and walked across America twice to raise awareness of the harmful side effects of drug abuse. He is now planning to open Freedom to Grow which will be a drug rehabilitation center in Georgia. In this episode:

  • Violating probation and being sentenced to prison for 18 months
  • Breaking addiction through counseling
  • Losing his sister to drug overdose
  • Taking action by raising awareness against the harmful effects of drug use by walking across America to find relief from pain
  • The strong support community he met along his walk
  • Meeting a woman in Kansas City who also lost her sister, Brittany, to drug overdose
  • Raising money for his own non-profit Freedom to Grow
  • Walking across America a second time and becoming the first person to finish the East Coast Greenway
  • Having a stranger join the walk for 300 miles and 3 weeks so that she could save her own life from addiction
  • Having his dog accompany him for most of the 1st walk and all of the 2nd walk

You can find out more information on Brett at www.brettbramblewalks.com as well as on Facebook @brettbramblewalks.

50: Rebuilding Sergeant Peck with a Double Arm Transplant

John Peck served as a Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan. During his second deployment, an IED detonated after he stepped on it, and he lost all four of his limbs. After a long road to recovery, he received a double arm transplant and became the second veteran ever to receive this life-changing surgery. He has regained motor function in his arms and he can accomplish numerous tasks that most never thought he would be able to again. In this episode:

  • Being broke down and built back up during Hell Week in the Marines
  • The brotherhood mindset in the military
  • Excitement to deploy
  • No regrets in serving as a Marine and sustaining injuries
  • 1st tour of duty to Iraq: enduring a frontal tear in his brain lobe that led to a 21 year loss of memory
  • 2nd tour of duty to Afghanistan: stepping on an IED and losing all 4 limbs
  • The pain of divorce after losing his limbs
  • Overcoming suicidal thoughts by learning that he can find love as an amputee
  • Becoming the second veteran ever to receive a double arm transplant
  • Relearning how to wiggle his fingers
  • Throwing out the first pitch with new arms at a baseball game

You can follow John at “John Peck’s Journey” on Facebook. He has a new book coming out on May 7th called Rebuilding Sergeant Peck that you will be able to find in any bookstore.

49: Love at First Spike with Travis Mewhirter

Travis Mewhirter picked up sand volleyball for the first time at 24 years old and found a way to become a professional athlete in this sport. Life on the beach as a sand volleyball player may seem glamorous, but there are often extensive hardships outside of the court that all sand volleyball professional players deal with day-in and day-out. Travis shares how he turned pro, the sacrifices he has had to make, and why he loves this sport above all others. In this episode:

  • How a bartender initiated his interest in volleyball
  • Sacrificing brand name credibility in his career with the Washington Post to pursue a better lifestyle
  • The training, practice, and regimen that a 24 year old with no volleyball experience did to become a pro
  • Newfound motivation after getting embarrassed in his first professional competition
  • Pursuing greatness in a sport that doesn’t offer much financial compensation, even if you are one of the best in the world
  • Using a passion to create a platform and find a career in writing about volleyball
  • The man in the arena
  • The most exhausting sand volleyball day ever
  • How his best friend retired from volleyball for 2 years due to an autoimmune disease and returned to compete at an elite level

Travis Mewhirter is the co-host of the Sandcast Beach Volleyball Podcast and the author of We Were Kings: A Deep Dive Inside the Lives of Professional Beach Volleyball Players. You can buy his book on Amazon or online at Barnes and Noble. You can follow Travis on Instagram @trammew and on Twitter @tram_mew.

48: Hit by an RPG with Yonas Hagos

Yonas Hagos was born in Africa and grew up in a Sudanese refugee camp before he came to America as a young boy. He enlisted in the Army after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and was hit by an RPG in Iraq during his tour of duty. He survived and went on to become a successful serial entrepreneur in Illinois. In this episode:

  • Growing up in a Sudanese refugee camp
  • Muslim vs. Christian persecution
  • Family is important and family must stick together
  • Coming to the United States and living in the projects but feeling like a king
  • Learning English, preserving Ethiopian culture, and avoiding the hood life by listening to his parents
  • Serving in Iraq and getting hit with an RPG
  • Overcoming PTSD and how he views it now
  • Transitioning to an entrepreneur: 16 Dunkin Donuts, 2 Pet Supplies Plus, and a gun manufacturing company
  • Persistence beats resistance

You can find out more information about Yonas at www.yonashagos.com or on his public Facebook profile https://www.facebook.com/yonashagospage/