CONFIDENCE | COMPETENCE | COURAGE
Getting to know The Hill means getting to know Wes Hamilton of the Disabled But Not Really Foundation.
“There’s not much that I can write about Wes that his story doesn’t already tell. Not only is Wes doing incredible things in the adaptive athlete community but he reminds us every day that our struggle does not need to be our identity. He also shows us that through adversity we truly can overcome anything. We’re excited to have Wes and his organization in our space here at The Hill.”
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a football player.
I wanted to play sports when I grew up because for me, I thought that was the only thing I COULD do.
Growing up as an African American Male, sports was the only thing we thought would make us successful.
Where did you grow up?
East side Kansas City.
Weird part time job you had in the past?
McDonalds – for someone that’s so healthy now- I worked there for 2 years and ate every double quarter pounder with cheese.
And I worked at a church for Full Employment Council when I was 14 or 15. Jameson memorial temple child mentors running kids programs down on 18th and paseo they used to do teenage programs where 14 you could get a job and they’d place you all over town.
Got any hidden talents?
My hidden talent is writing. I love to write. I wish I could blog everyday, but I try to get to it as much as possible on my personal website. I love writing. I grew up writing. I stopped writing when I grew up because that just wasn’t a thing. It was like a sign of weakness to do something that was intellectual. So now I write as much as possible because I have more self awareness. I’ve actually been writing a book for about 2 years now. So I love to write any chance I get.
What do you like about KC?
I like the community.
I like how people from all different backgrounds come together. Through Love. Through understanding that everyone might have grown up or lived different, but it doesn’t change who you are as a person.
I love that most Kansas City people judge you off of your character. Not just your skin color or anything like that.
KC feels like home. I could travel all over the world and come back and know that the moment I get in KCI airport it just feels like peace.
The home feel and how you can be appreciated by anyone, are some of the things I love about Kansas City.
I drive around the city all the time. But I make sure that I drive by the east side everyday. There’s something about those neighborhoods that bring me such peace. Even though the way we grew up was rough and hard, it was home for us. I love Kansas City so much because I love a place where many people have never been. My love for KC is complete because I’ve been welcomed and respected and Created success in a place where maybe we didn’t see ourselves going.
In order for you to love KC you have to know everything about it. I know a guy who puts it this way… a lot of brands have the heart KC shirts, he says they should have only half a heart because they only love one side of KC.
For me, my heart is full. Because I love every part. I can accept the good and fall in love with the bad because that’s how I was brought up. And I’ve been welcomed everywhere.
What is your title at Disabled But Not Really?
I am the Executive Director, CEO & Founder.
How did you get connected to The Hill?
I met the amazing owners of The hill during my year full of competitions. I was looking for a chiropractor who specializes in working with athletes, and after a google search, I found Unbroken Chiropractic. And when I saw a picture of Dr. Heather, I recognized her from working out at Genesis. Over time we got to know each other and in one of our conversations I started to speak about my desire to train other people with disabilities. But I didn’t have a place.
Heather said she might know some people who would be really welcoming to that. And she told me about the BUILD & Legends programs so she introduced me to Josh, and Josh blew my mind with the amount of awareness and acceptance that he was willing to bring to adaptive athletes. And then I met Matt and Matt was the same way and it just became home.
That was in 2017. 2 years of coaching- The Help Me Fit Challenge is into the 4th class- We have had 15 graduates so far.
What motivates you to coach?
My own personal story. From being paralyzed 7 years ago, being overweight when I was first paralyzed, going through a lot of health complications, 2 years of bedrest. It was just tragic where eventually I got the will to do things that I never thought I could do.
One of those things was to go to school to be a dietitian to learn nutrition. I lost 100 lbs while I was on bedrest in less than a year. I fell into depression post injury I was depressed because people with the disability that I have always seemed like they were depressed and overweight. I fell into that same mindset. That was reality.
So when I started to change that reality or that perception of what I thought, then my life got better. And when my life got better and I felt good, I started to think about how I could help other people.
I came up with the idea of Disabled But Not Really while I was still in a hospital bed while I was recovering from my last surgery. At that point I didn’t care about me actually recovering. What I cared about was the fact that I had lost 100 pounds while being paralyzed.
What motivates me? I changed my life after a traumatic injury. Because of that, I believe that anyone can do the same. I saw change, I had never seen change before like that. My life got better, I became an entrepreneur, a motivational speaker, everything.
It’s all about mindset. When I changed my mindset and started to look at my reality and started to accept myself, I believed that I could help other people accept themselves. That’s what fuels me everyday. Our athletes might not be at a certain place today, but they can be better tomorrow. I believe that with anybody. So that’s what motivates me everyday.
What do you love about your job?
The networking. What I really love about being the Director at Disabled But Not Really, is that I’m changing people’s mindsets. I’m putting myself in a position that makes being disabled look like the norm. And I think that’s the best part. I gained such a level of confidence during my transformation that if I could go out with the confidence that I have and change people’s mindsets of how they look at someone, how they see themselves, how they see their children. If someone who is not be disabled sees strength and confidence in me, and says. “I can get that for myself- I have more ability than this guy..” that’s what motivates me.
Everyday that I roll out of my house, I become an inspiration to others because I’m doing so much more than anyone believed that I could do. Including myself.
What’s something that you wish everyone knew about people with disabilities?
That we are no different. That’s the biggest thing. People with disabilities are no different than you. Our inability to do things creates the ability to do them in a different way when people stop looking at you as incapable.
At the end of the day we are all able. So if someone needs to know something about someone with a physical disability… just know that it’s Not Really.. It’s always a mindset. Disabled starts in the mind. It’s not actually a person. It’s not actually a thing, it’s your thought process.
I just want everyone to know that you can be disabled mentally before you ever become disabled physically. Understand that just because we might have limitations doesn’t mean that we are mentally limited.
I tell people that when I grew up I was disabled mentally before I ever became disabled physically. Because when I look at the things I’ve created in the last seven years of my life being disabled, I pushed past every mental limit and every boundary that I had set for myself. I would never have been who I am today if I had never been shot.
Anything you’d like to share with The Hill?
I truly appreciate The Hill for bringing DBNR in here. And accepting us as family. Treating us the same. Treating every adaptive athlete that comes in as family. And being able to see our vision and join us to impact so many lives. I enjoy the uplifting vibe here and the overall love that the whole community provides is just amazing.
I want to say thank you to Matt and Josh and all the coaches, everyone, because not one person who comes through those doors, even myself, feels any different than anyone else.
I think that’s the best part. And for that I just want to say thank you.