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Dig Deep, Go Far

Dominic Wilson is ready to push his limits physically and mentally. Photo: Bryan Karl Lathrop

Dominic Wilson entered the world with a rough start—born with an intracranial hemorrhage that caused seizures and stopped his heart soon after his birth. He had to be resuscitated several times with CPR and a defibrillator. “My mom told me how scary it was being a single mother alone in the hospital room, with doctors coming in and saying ‘Your son just was resuscitated.’ And then be told again and again ‘Your son might not make it.’ They said that I might grow up with seizures for the rest of my life.” Fortunately, that never happened. A brief glance at Wilson’s work ethic and fitness trajectory belies the notion that he has any sort of medical disadvantage.

Now 24 years old, Wilson was born in Lewiston, Maine and raised in South Jersey. He graduated from Rutgers University two years early from a five year program, earning his Baccalaureate degree in accounting and finance, with a minor in economics. Typical of his inclination to push limits, Dominic took nine classes one semester; and also worked full-time in public accounting during his third year of college. These days he expends some of his energy working as an accountant for the Siegfried Group and does consulting work for Fortune 1000 companies. But it seems the majority of his energy is spent pushing his other boundaries.

As early as first grade, Dominic’s parents would take him to a gym that did group weight and track training with kids of the same age. As a 5-year old, he just tolerated it. He preferred football, which was a constant with the exception of a few year hiatus because of migraines. He returned to lifting and football in seventh grade; by the time he got to high school, he was strongest in his class in the weight room. Smiling, Dominic shares “I was like, okay. I like having this lead!” He kept pushing and pushing, setting several school weightlifting records along the way. He played football for three of his four years in high school because he’d had too many concussions. In his fourth year the coach let him suit, but he was sidelined because of his post-concussion syndrome, which still affects him today. “I haven’t felt the same since my last concussion. There’s always this feeling inside my head, a kind of mental fog. But I’m blessed that I was able to still perform highly academically and professionally.” Despite being in excellent shape, Wilson is focusing his attention on a new challenge, endurance. “A good friend, Adam Sikora, who is also a big guy, was doing Strong Man competitions and also did an Iron Man. After seeing Adam do it, I thought maybe there’s something to this.” With that, Dominic started endurance training. Before long he registered for his first triathlon—a half Ironman—“because I wanted to push my mind.” Listening to endurance athletes like David Goggins and Cameron Haynes inspired Dominic “I found this dark place that I wanted to go to—one that I don’t find in powerlifting. Endurance is a whole different beast.”

The quads don't lie. Photo: Bryan Karl Lathrop

When a guy who can bench 405, squat 500, and deadlift 650 dismisses such feats as “not enough suck,” you know he’s built different. Wilson puts a finer point on this idea: “Don’t get me wrong, there’s a struggle when you’re pushing that hard. Deadlifting 650…it’s only a three to five second push; then it’s done and you rack it. You’re not digging as deep as you’d have to to get through an Ironman. I’ve pushed myself academically, professionally, and physically in many ways; now I want to round myself out by pushing my mental limits [with endurance challenges].”

And push limits he will. Dominic will represent Legacy of Hope as a sponsored athlete in not one, but two grueling events: The New Jersey State Triathlon—where he’ll “double down” by competing in the sprint distance and Olympic distances on July 15th and 16th respectively—and in September the PHL24, which will be his first 24 hour event.

Dominic digging into a pre-dawn swim workout. Photo: Bryan Karl Lathrop

Wilson lost his grandfather to cancer in 2022. “After being diagnosed with lung cancer my grandfather was given a year—he ended up fighting it for four years. He was given kind of an ultimatum—live maybe three months with no treatment, or possibly a year if he received it. He took the treatment.” A week after Dominic’s grandfather passed, he saw Kellen Matthews’ Instagram post about completing 70+ miles running the “Rocky” steps at the PHL24 and was intrigued. “I also read the article Does Not Compute about John Sullivan and sent it to my girlfriend; I told her ‘This is gold!’ She's like, ‘what’s wrong with you?!?’ It’s funny. I started pushing, and now she’s eyeing up the Philly Marathon.”

Surprisingly, Wilson has yet to connect with the Earn Your Break (EYB) crew. But it won’t be long, because EYB’s James Grauel will also be competing in the NJ State Triathlon with him. His mindset is cut from the same cloth as EYB, whose members are known for operating well outside of their comfort zones. When asked if he has a favorite activity between endurance running, biking or swimming, Dominic replies: “I just want to find what sucks the most. I started out just wanting to get a taste of it, just do a Half Ironman.” His calendar for the next several months makes it clear that “just a taste” is not part of his mindset. “I’m striving to push my limits; to go to that dark place where my lights flicker, and even go out, but I'm able to dig deep and spark the flame to keep going.” Toward that end, Dominic started training with endurance coach Ryan Dreyer in September 2022 and has been grinding nonstop since—at the gym, at the pool, the track, on his bike. He’s packing his calendar with events that will no doubt help him find "the suck”—multiple half marathons and triathlons (including sprint, Olympic, half and full Ironman lengths*), frequently “double dosing” with events done back-to-back on consecutive days. *Triathlon distances.

Photo: Bryan Karl Lathrop

Wilson shares “I have a good friend who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, and he turned his life a complete 180 [for the better] because of his cancer. He dug deep, got super fit, and he’s still in remission. Some people don’t have the opportunities to do that after they get a cancer diagnosis. I want to show myself that I’m able to do it for the people who can’t. The least I can do is to give back. My body is 100% able and willing; but is my mind?” Given Dominic’s accomplishments to date, there’s no doubt that he will dig deep, then a little deeper, and deeper still, and go far, establishing new thresholds in his quest to find the suck. We’re honored to have him as part of the Legacy of Hope family.