Willie Stewart was working construction in the Watergate Building in Washington, D.C. not long after graduating from high school. His arm got entangled in a rope and, as he was being dragged toward a huge fan, the all-state wrestler had two options: lose his head or lose his arm. It was a moment that would change his life forever. Due to rush hour traffic, instead of waiting for an ambulance after losing his arm, he ran over a mile to the hospital while blood pumped from his body from where his left arm used to be. One of eight kids, while Willie was in the hospital trying to recover, his mother gave him the tough love he needed. “I tossed her an orange and asked her to peel it for me,” the man now known as One Arm Willie remembers. “She tossed it back and said ‘peel it yourself.’”
Willie has not only been peeling it himself ever since, he has inspired countless others through the Challenged Athletes Foundation to do the same. Willie has kayaked the Grand Canyon, won the Catalina Marathon, finished the Ironman Triathlon World Championship and the XTERRA World Championship, and won a Paralympic Medal in cross country skiing. He is now going for his sixth finish at the Blueprint for Athletes Leadville Trail 100 MTB.