A 26-year-old man with spina bifida, with two men helping him, completed the Strong Warriors 5K Obstacle Challenge at the Ho-Chunk Nation House of Wellness Sunday.

David Miller completed the race in 2 hours and 50 minutes, according to Will Meissner, founder of AssistWI who was at Miller’s side throughout the entire race, lifting him from his wheelchair and pushing the wheelchair along the course. Paul Roberts, Jr., who runs the Ho-Chunk Nation Weightlifting Club, also assisted Miller in completing the course. Together, Roberts and Meissner either pushed or pulled the wheelchair with a strap and supported Miller outside of the wheelchair as he waded through muddy water, climbed piles of dirt, walked on his hands across tires and climbed a 6-foot-tall wall. The course, which was more than 3 miles, was loaded with such obstacles.

Having been born with spina bifida, Miller has paralysis in his legs and he doesn’t have feeling below his knees and only a small amount of feeling above his knees to the waist, he said.

He said it affects people differently, with some people being able to walk with it.

Miller said meeting Meissner with AssistWi changed his life.

“I just really wasn’t doing much. I was living, but not really living, if that makes sense. I was surviving. Not like I was in bad shape or anything. I just wasn’t doing anything special,” Miller said.

AssistWI is a new non-profit, formed in February, that Meissner leads. Its purpose is to help people with physical disabilities enjoy the Dells area and attractions like roller coasters, kayaks and zip lines. Meissner said the organization’s motto is removing obstacles and replacing them with opportunities.

Miller has been training with Roberts for three months with a free membership at the Ho-Chunk Nation House of Wellness.

“We’ve been working hard three times a week,” Miller said. “I’ve been losing weight and he’s just been real instrumental in getting me ready for it.”

Miller went into the race without a goal for finishing in a certain time.

“I just want to do all the obstacles as best I can, and I don’t really have a timetable. I just want to finish,” Miller said.

Even before he had raced, Miller said the training was benefitting him.

“I feel like I’ve had a more positive lifestyle since I’ve been training…. Especially in the last couple weeks I’ve noticed more energy in myself, more confidence, noticing myself getting stronger and realizing what I really can do,” he said.

The Strong Warriors 5K Obstacle Challenge was held in the morning for Native Americans and in the afternoon for the general public.

Reporter, photographer for Reedsburg Times-Press and Wisconsin Dells Events