Trainer Jeremy B. Manning has a story to tell, and he came to realize that stories can inspire action.
Last fall, Manning, 37, coached participants in the annual AIDS Project Los Angeles charity trail run, called T2. Compared with the blasé attitude of some of the "overprivileged" private training clients he'd had over the years, the T2 competitors' enthusiasm was a revelation.
So he decided he needed to spread the word.
"Then I said to myself 'How can I do that?' By telling the stories of the participants who are overcoming challenges to inspire others to say, 'You guys are awesome. I want to be a part of that,'" says the Army veteran who has national titles in martial arts, a discipline he credits for overcoming a post-military methamphetamine addiction.
In January, he started Manning Up, his self-funded "media company with a purpose." On his Manning Up USA YouTube channel and on manningupusa.com, he posts inspirational stories about people who have fought their way back from physical and emotional challenges, interspersed with informative articles on working out and nutrition.
Manning said he also asks the people he spotlights to continue to give back by participating in charity events. Eventually he hopes to expand his reach by telling stories and putting together teams across the country.
Manning Up immediately set the bar high, sponsoring two team challenges this year with the goal of raising a combined sum of $100,000.
In June, the first team of 10 raised $75,000 at the annual AIDS/LifeCycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Manning plans to join six of his "Trailblazers" for this year's AIDS Project T2 run in November to raise at least the remaining $25,000. (Donations can be made until the end of the month at http://www.t2ea.com.)
His work is being recognized.
On a recent sunny day at West Hollywood's annual Buff N Cut fitness fair, two of Manning Up's ambassadors were awarded keys to the city by Mayor Abbe Land: Alex Minsky, an ex-Marine who lost a leg in an explosion in Afghanistan and found unlikely success as an underwear model, and Mylee Yc, a veteran and a single mom who beat breast cancer while serving out her tour of duty.
Those who have their own inspirational stories to share or who want to be part of the Manning Up community may contact email@example.com