Can you imagine being born with clubbed feet, no knee caps and no bicep muscles? Youfit Gilbert-McQueen Rd. member Steve Krause, was. This rare disability, called arthrogryposis (arth-ro-grip-OH-sis), causes a child to be born with multiple joint contractures. For a large portion of his life, Steve viewed his disability, which put him in a wheelchair, as a roadblock.
“My friends started playing sports, they started driving cars, they were getting girlfriends,” said Steve. “That’s really when the depression in my life took over. As I got older, the depression got worse and worse, and my only outlet was substance abuse.”
Steve says he made comedy his career to try and make people feel more comfortable around him and make them see him for something other than his disability. “It was hard. Because with comedy comes that party lifestyle. I hit rock bottom. The doctors told me if I had continued drinking the way I was, I would have died a week later,” he said.
Thanks to his inner strength and supportive friends and family, Steve began to turn his life around. Russell Peters, one of the world’s most successful comedians, promised Steve that he could be a part of Russell’s comedy tour under one condition: Steve must stay sober for a whole year.
Determined to make it to the stage with Russell, Steve took it step by step, month by month, and eventually got sober. Russell kept his word to bring Steve on tour. “He messaged me and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to use you in Philadelphia for the grand opening of a club called Comedy Works.’” As they talked about their trip to Philadelphia, what started out as a joke about Russell carrying Steve up the famous Rocky Steps became a major goal for Steve. He decided to make it his mission to climb the stairs himself.
“I just thought to myself, why can’t I do it?” Steve said. “I have this disability, but this disability doesn’t have me.”
Youfit Gilbert manager Oscar and YouCoach Jeff have been an integral part in helping Steve reach his goal to climb the Rocky Steps using just his neck, back and limited leg function.
“We figured out a way to make a mock staircase. We’ve been doing a lot of adaptations of different machines. It’s been very innovative,” Steve said. “They’re trainers, but they’re also friends. I think every client needs that personal relationship with people that’ll keep motivating them.”
On July 10, Steve will work his way up the stairs, a seemingly impossible feat for someone who has spent his entire life in a wheelchair. But then again, many things that used to seem impossible for Steve are now just a normal part of his workout routine at Youfit.
“I’ve never been able to curl a dumbbell,” said Steve. “Jeff figured out a way to position my arm on the machine to get it to a height where I could hold the dumbbell, and I did my first curl ever. I left the place almost in tears because I accomplished something I had never done before.”
Steve now attends Youfit two to three times a day and has lost 25 pounds since joining.
“The one thing I love about Youfit is that even though I’m disabled, they don’t cut me any slack. They will kick my butt and push me to my limit,” he said.
In conjunction with climbing the Rocky Steps, Steve is raising money for a wheelchair, which can cost anywhere from $8,000 – $12,000, and sports equipment for his wheelchair Power Soccer team. You can help this cause too. You can pledge to donate for each of the 72 steps Steve climbs or make a one-time donation. Part of the proceeds will also go to Arizona Disabled Sports.
“For me, when I go up those stairs, they’re not just four flights of physical stairs. One flight is conquering my depression; one flight is conquering my substance abuse; one flight is conquering my self-doubt and pity. And that last flight is my future,” said Steve.
Good luck, Steve. Youfit is cheering for you every step of the way!