In 2010 on the streets of East Oakland, Calif., a gang member shot Fremont police officer Todd Young in the pelvis. He suffered injuries so severe that doctors thought he would die.
Young woke up after 19 days in a coma. The shot to his iliac artery had also taken out 40 percent of his bladder and left holes in his intestines. He found himself with a colostomy bag, a catheter and tubes in his stomach, which was split open from surgery.
“When my nightmare began was when I woke up,” Young recalls. “The actual shooting itself, the gun fight that wasn’t haunting me. What was haunting me was my body won’t work.”
With his mind ready but his body unable, Young asked himself what he had to do to get mobile again. After 51 days in intensive care, he started rehab to learn how to walk again. When he was supposed to go to a live-in rehab facility, he refused. Instead, he told his department he wanted personal training—specifically, CrossFit. When he started, he was on crutches.
“Before, he wasn’t even able to walk. Now we have him out here on this track and we’ve got him doing miles for time,” Young’s personal trainer says.
Young says he hopes his story saves someone’s life.
“I’m hoping that a cop that’s in the line and gets in a gun fight, that it helps them to have a stronger will to live and drive,” he says, “so if they do get injured they can fight their way through it—because it is possible.”
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Additional reading: Applying CrossFit to Police Recruits by James Keller, published Aug. 20, 2012.