By Chanda Temple
In October, Noah Galloway sat on the Today Show set waiting to see if he had won a national contest to appear on the November cover of Men’s Health magazine.
When it was announced that he was the winner, Galloway smiled. But when Galloway returned to his hotel room, doubt settled in. He thought the other two finalists, also appearing on live television with him, should have won. Then he wondered if he won because he was a disabled veteran. (He lost his right leg and arm in a 2005 roadside bomb while serving in the Army in Iraq. He went through a period of depression and heavy drinking before he used exercise to get a new take on life. He shared his story in his quest to win. More than 400,000 readers cast votes in the contest, which had nearly 1,300 entries. Galloway made it to the Top 3.)
“There was that moment, ‘Oh crap! I don’t deserve this,” Galloway recalled the way he felt after winning. But Men’s Health assured him that he was the right winner and there was no special treatment. “Finny (Akers), one of the other contestants, called me and congratulated me. He was like, ‘You earned this and you have every right to be happy about it.’ ”
Said Galloway: “Now I’m taking it all in. It’s been an incredible ride.’’
After the guilt passed, Galloway wondered what other injured veterans thought about him and his magazine win. Did he make them proud?
Not only did injured veterans of his generation contact him but so did injured veterans of older generations. “They’ve been so proud and supportive. That’s been a little emotional for me,” he said.
Galloway, 33, is using the win to help promote healthier lifestyles and his nonprofit organization No Excuses Charitable Fund, which raises money and awareness for organizations that mean the most to him. Currently, the fund provides resources to the YMCA of Greater Birmingham and Operation Enduring Warrior. He’s the first veteran and amputee to appear on the cover of the magazine, which launched its Ultimate Men’s Health Guy Search this year.
He exercises a lot and has run in a marathon. Now, he wants to compete in an Iron Man competition. It will take him about a year to train. “I don’t expect people to do the same that I do. But I feel the more extreme I go, with my injuries, people will say, ‘If he can do it, I can do a little bit more.’ ” (For this interview, he was sitting outside the YMCA, waiting to walk in to work out.)
His mantra is “No excuses.’’
The win has brought him a lot of attention and public appearances, including on The Ellen Show with host Ellen DeGeneres. DeGeneres challenged him to do 20 push-ups in 20 seconds. If he accomplished it, he’d receive a donation. Galloway succeeded, with three seconds to spare. DeGeneres then announced that Shutterfly was donating $10,000 to his charity.
But there won’t be any public appearances today, Veterans Day. He’s going to spend that time with his three children. “For Veterans Day, it’s easy to forget this is our day. I’m going to spend it with my kids,” he said.
Chanda Temple is a former reporter now working in public relations. She blogs about being better in business and more at http://www.chandatemplewrites.com. Follow her on Twitter at @chandatemple. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.