556. Veteran Regains His Passion Through Endurance Racing
Just before the Boston Marathon, Aaron worked hard on his speech he had been asked to give on what running meant to him. But the man who spoke before him started his speech with the same story he was going to tell. Now he was even more nervous. He knew he had two choices: he could let the fear overcome him or he could find courage.
Aaron Hunnel is a US Army veteran, award-winning wellness consultant, author and national speaker. After returning home from two deployments, he hit rock bottom by failing in his personal and professional life. But he began moving upwards again once he realized and harnessed his personal power through endurance racing. He met a young woman with cerebral palsy, and together they challenged their physical and mental limits as he pushed and pulled her in races such as the 140.6-mile Ironman Triathlon and 100-mile run. He challenges the status quo by empowering people, organizations, and communities to move upwards together through a life filled with positivity, passion, and purpose.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“I loved athletics and I loved being part of a team. So I did a lot of different sports growing up. I was in baseball, football, wrestling. I loved the challenge, but I loved experiencing the challenge with other people. And that was a great sense of value and worth in my life, and it probably contributed greatly to who I am today and the things that I do with endurance racing.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
After joining the Army in 2004, Aaron was deployed to Iraq. Out on a claims mission one day, a child pointed to the bottle of Gatorade protruding from his pocket. He handed it to the boy and all the other children started to run after him to get the Gatorade. “You would have thought there was gold in that Gatorade, they valued it so much. And here I am, I have access to Gatorade all the time. That taught me about perspective and gratitude, appreciating what I have. It made me feel I get to live in an amazing country. I can never take for granted the things and access to different things that I’ve got. I’ve got to appreciate that.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“In the Army you have to wear patches with the US Army and your name. So that soldiers can remember where to put that patch, they tell you it goes just below your left shoulder and just above your heart. Some will often say, ‘My heart is in the Army.’ And that, to me, speaks just how powerful being in the military is and how much purpose the military gave me. I was part of something bigger than myself. I was part of a team.”
On His Bookshelf
Upwards: Maximize Life with Positivity, Passion and Purpose, by Aaron Hunnel
Steps to Success from Aaron Hunnel
1. Intentionally go out and do things for other people and serve them because there are lots of people that benefit: the person doing the act of kindness, the person receiving the act of kindness and any bystanders.
2. Live with purpose. Purpose is like the guiding light that allows us to see, to have vision.
3. Come up with your purpose statement. Memorize it. When you have certain thoughts, certain beliefs, certain actions, you should be able to ask yourself, “Is this aligning with my purpose?”
4. Test new things and see what works for you and what you like, and then set aside time to do them.
Connecting With Aaron Hunnel
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Careers: Army, Author, Speaker, Vet, Wellness Consultant
Topics: Endurance Racing, Passion, Positive Attitude, Veterans