“My name is Charles King. I’m 70 years old. I’ve been totally blind since the age of 39,” says King, a man who has found gratitude, strength, and joy amid circumstances that would break most people.
“Since going blind, I’ve been homeless, I’ve been addicted to drugs and alcohol, I’ve been a prostate cancer (survivor), and I’m a diabetic,” King says.
At one point in his life, King recalls, “I just quit. I wanted to die.”
After he was found half frozen on the streets of Philadelphia in the winter of 1996, King’s life finally took a positive turn. The kind-hearted police officer who found King learned he was a veteran and helped connect him with his local VA.
“That was the beginning of my journey back,” King says. “I stopped focusing on the things I couldn’t do and realized there were things I could do.”
The VA helped set King up with an apartment so he could live safely and independently. Then they reconnected him with his family.
King continues to foster that safety and independence by remaining committed to his fitness. He regularly takes public transportation and then uses his cane to make his way to CrossFit Rittenhouse in Center City Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he trains with Jon Mears.
“We learned he was a record-holding blind powerlifter,” Mears says, noting that King is full of surprises and has become a living legend in their gym.
King connected with CrossFit right away.
“The challenge in it is what got me excited again,” King says. “So I enjoy coming down here for CrossFit because there’s so many different exercises to work on, so many different positions to put your body in, so much extra power to grow!”
Robert Fitzgerald, a polytrauma blind outpatient rehabilitation specialist who works with King says, “All these various health conditions … would be a lot worse” if King didn’t do CrossFit. “He may not be here today if he wasn’t working out and as fit as he is,” Fitzgerald says.
“I like to see older people decide that, OK, you know, the world says that you can’t do this. But we can,” King says. “And it’s fun.”
“At last, I feel like my life’s worth something.”
To support King’s continued journey, visit his GoFundMe page.