I was a Firefighter in Texas for seven years when I experienced a series of very unfortunate events. In 2018, my leg was amputated just below my knee. I decided that this tragedy was not going to end my career and passion for fighting fire. Ten months and six days after my amputation, I was back on the Fire Truck, full-duty, with no restrictions. My faith, family, and fortitude were the driving factors in getting back to being a Firefighter. Now I am on a mission to show the world that no matter what happens to you, you can Adapt and Overcome!
Since getting back to full-duty firefighting, I have become a Motivational Speaker. I travel the country, speaking at schools, churches, and business conferences about overcoming obstacles and challenges in life and how to Never Give Up no matter what. My motto is “Adapt and Overcome.” I actually started my own Brand called A&O, which stands for Adapt and Overcome. You can find it at www.GaryWeiland.com. My hope is that when people wear the A&O logo, they will have the motivation and confidence to tackle any challenge in life. I want to build some mental strength in this world.
This year, I competed on NBC’s American Ninja Warrior! I have also competed in the UNAA Ninja league and qualified for the Finals in Las Vegas for the last two years. I am featured as part of a documentary called, “Becoming the Ultimate Ninja,” which is available on Amazon Prime Video. As a team USA Para-Athlete, I am a member of the USA ParaBobsled/Skeleton Team.
I have also written a children’s book series and they are available on Amazon. The first book is called Fischer’s Accident. It is about a firefighter who gets injured on the job, and his leg gets amputated. He gets a prosthetic leg, learns how to walk and run, and eventually returns to firefighting. Book two is called Fischer Finds a Friend. Fischer is working a car accident in front of the local animal shelter. He notices a puppy in the storefront window, which looks very sad. He goes in to see why she is so sad, and when she stands up, Fischer notices that she only has three legs. No one has adopted her yet because she looks a little different than most dogs. Fischer decides to adopt her and name her Stitch. He soon realizes that Stitch can do anything a four-legged dog can do, only faster! In books three, four, and five, Fischer and Stitch go on different adventures together. They go camping and to the circus. Fischer teaches Stitch about fire safety and how to act during emergencies, all while having fun and exploring the world.
My purpose in writing this series is two-fold. First of all, I want to take the “shock-factor” away from kids. When they see an amputee for the first time, kids (and adults) are usually taken back a little bit. It can lead to some awkward situations. When a child sees an amputee in a book, they are shocked. Then when they see an amputee in real life, they can say, “that person is just like Fischer,” and avoid awkward situations. Secondly, these books show that the main characters look slightly different from most people but still live amazing lives. It allows children to normalize our differences. After all, our differences are what make us human.
I am quite busy but I don’t want to take one second of this life for granted. I truly believe that you can do anything you put your mind to. Adapt and Overcome!