In 2008, former college football player David Vobora was the 252nd and final NFL draft pick, earning him the title “Mr. Irrelevant.”
The name didn't hold him back on the field, but eventually, a shoulder injury that led him to develop a painkiller addiction did.
After time in rehab, Performance Vault gym in Dallas became a sanctuary for Vobora. He began to find purpose again training athletes, then found his calling working with amputees.
“[I] started meeting these adaptive athletes and realizing that I could offer them a level of optimization that they hadn’t had in a long time,” Vobora said.
He now runs the Adaptive Training Foundation, a nine-week program for athletes with disabilities that focuses on both physical and mental strength. He works with each athlete to create an individual training program. The goal, he says, is to redefine lives beyond a doctor’s diagnosis.
“They see themselves as broken, and what we’re trying to show them, that what is once broken can be revived with a new purpose,” Vobora said. “Then they find a different level of freedom, because the narrative that was in their brain is debunked. It's never as big as they thought. And then they find this whole level of fulfillment”
Many in the program are combat veterans.
Kenny Kalish lost both legs and an arm while serving in Afghanistan. “He doesn’t let you give up on yourself because he doesn’t give up on you,” Kalish said.
Chris Schaefer, a police officer who had to amputate his leg after multiple knee replacements, also found hope at ATF. “I didn’t want to wake up,” Schaefer explained. “I owe him everything.”