A few weeks ago Five Ounces of Pain put together a contest for readers providing an opportunity to win a Matt Hamill Prize Pack by sharing an inspirational story (or through a few other means). All of the entries have been compiled and winners randomly drawn meaning a quintet of lucky entrants will be receiving an early gift this holiday in the form of a TapouT T-Shirt and some other swag related to The Hammer, a film documenting the struggles and success of the former UFC light heavyweight.

On a personal note, I want to thank everyone who entered as many of your stories were moving and sincerely made me wish we had enough prizes to send to the entire lot. Never before have I been so proud to be a part of the 5 OZ community!

And the winners are (followed by some of the excellent entries we received)…

Will Vogenitz
Stephen Floyd Jones
Ray Mercado
Shane Reilly
Christopher Bolinski

If your name is on that list you will receive an email confirming the distinction. If not, again, thank you for taking the time to be part of this contest and rest assured we will have future giveaways coming down the road.

Now for a few of your inspirational stories:

“Five days after my fifteenth birthday my father passed away. He was only 41 years old and a diabetic. I found myself turning away from my family and mostly my mother and turning to my friends for guidance and support. At the ripe age of 17 I dropped out of high school and entered into the United States Army. Ft. Knox Kentucky is where at 17 I found myself amongst a group of much older and wiser men. Scared shitless would be to say the least. I was a kid trying to play an adults game. Two days after arriving I sprained my ankle on a march. I was placed in a cast and separated from all of the others. Two months and one day after I arrived I found myself with a medical discharge for my ankle injury. I was still 17 without the support and guidance of the US Army or the education from high school. I attempted to re-enter high school. The school district did not want to allow me to enter back as they stated that no one has ever dropped out and attempted to come back and be successful. I explained that they did not know me. Two years later I graduated with the largest scholarship awarded in my county, attended Utica College of Syracuse University and became Recreational Therapist. Currently I work with court adjudicated juvenile delinquents after they were placed in residential placements and have a wonderful family with a wife and 2 children, oh yeah and my 2 German Shepherds. Thanks for taking the time to read this even if I do not win, getting my story heard means a lot.” – Chris

“My cousin Geoff was born with downs syndrome 25 years ago. I’ve seen this courageous young man grow into an amazing guy. He’s gone through alot in his life. He went to regular school and was picked on and such from a young age and still does today. Despite being picked on he overcame his “Disability” and has become a hard working, Dedicated young man. He’s been a true inspiration to me as watching him grow up showed me to never doubt yourself, Always believe that you can become anything and accomplish your goals. Geoff is my inspiration to become the best that I can be!” – Andrew

“I was never comfortable with confrontation because I was beat up a lot back in high school. One day during driving class I was bullied to a fight which I promptly backed down for fear of becoming humiliated, walking away pretending I was “bigger than that”, honestly he would have had it coming. As I did I was attacked from behind and sent to the hospital for two days. I decided while in there that I needed to do something to end my shameful unwillingness to defend myself. I sought out several programs and decided to take a chance with something called “Krav Maga”. The first class I ever participated in I was throwing up flem (I don’t smoke). It was addictive for sure, then eventually they introduced different stress drills designed to get students used to our own nervous emotions and adrenaline rushes. I’ve been with it ever since then, however a year into it a random drunk tried shoving me to the side yelling at me for no apparent reason. Without thinking I swung…and knocked him out cold. I went to make sure his friends weren’t going to jump in and as I did I got punched in the back of my head sending my hand through a mirror above an ATM. They ran, I laughed, then I fished the piece of mirror lodged in my wrist out myself where the gashly scar remains. I literally look at it some days reflecting on my transition and my journey in doing so. I hold myself now at a higher standard without letting anyone take that right from me.” – Charles

“My son was born a cardiac child. Three holes in his heart, parachuted mitral valve, enlarged pulmonary artery, cystic hygroma, and club feet. It’s a lot to work with for your first child, but we had been informed there were likely going to be these issues, ultra sounds are a wonderful early detection machine. The six open heart surgeries were tough to get through, as was the fact that he was blue for almost his entire first year. But the hardest part, at least for me, was the day we took him home. He was half the size of a normal baby so they couldn’t perform all the surgeries immediately. We had been living at the Ronald McDonald house near the hospital for 3 months while he was still in the NICU. We lived 100 miles away in a small town and wanted badly to take him home by Christmas. The doctors and installed and central iv line into his heart to deliver medicine every three hours 24/7. We assured them that, if they gave us the medicine, we would give it to him on time. The doctors agreed and let us take our child home for three months until his next scheduled surgery. My wife was still recovering from the pregnancy (whole ‘nother story) so the job of administering his medicine fell to me. For three months every day at Midnight, 3am, 6am, noon, 3pm, and 6pm; I woke, measured the medicine, attached the machine to my baby sons chest, delivered the medicine and observed him for any complications. Each delivery took around 30 minutes. For three months I didn’t sleep for longer than 2 hrs at a time. The doctors were impressed. Today my son is in the Second grade. He’s smart, funny, and a hell of a good dancer.” – Shane

“My boyfriend Robert Flores has wanted to be an MMA fighter since he was a young child. He grew up watching wrestling and watching Tito Ortiz grow in the octagon and also knew he wanted to get into something fighting related. When he was 13 years old, his jiu jitsu instructor entered him in the local NAGA tornament where he competed against adults in the expert division. He won 1st place beating grown men. He was ecstatic and what made the day even better was that an idol of his, Matt Serra was there. He approaced Matt Serra after to get a picture with him and he told Matt that he has just won 1st place and Matt Serra responded “Thats good but this sport isn’t for everyone kid”, and walked away. Robbie was heartbroken and quit training for a while. He started fighting again a few years later and switched fight camps.He earned his black belt in MMA in 6 months, became a level 3 instructor and took a few kickboxing and MMA fights in 2008 and 2009. Robbie was doing really well until he got into a bad car accident and the contracted tuberculosis in the same year. He was quarantined in a hospital in Westchester, NY and was forced to put mma on the backburner. He has since recovered fully and changed camps again and is still struggling to take it to the next level. He has had such a hard road to his dream, and there is much more that I haven’t even mentioned.” – Dorothea

“My side job is doing Quality Assurance Inspections for a local non profit which serves the Developmentally Disabled community. Day in & out I see folks whose afflictions interfere with and effect their avid pursuit of a fulfilling life… the clients I work with are involved in vocational programs and educational programs that help them become part of the community through work and social inclusions. There is a group of younger clients whom attend a vocational program in which they learn automotive maintance. At first you would say to your self sounds like a bit of a challenge for this particular sect of society BUT this group of guys ( most of whom have been part of the program 10 plus years) perform oil changes, rotate tires, change washer blades and a slew of other minor maintence issues. When this program started nobody believed this group could be successfully trained to perform these tasks but they have been so successful 2 of them have actually landed jobs in repair shops in the area. The mission statement of the org. is “What really matters is what you do with what you have…” I used to think blah blah another cheesy sentiment but then I realized as I worked with this community more and more they really truely make the most of their lives. Things we take for granted are major accomplishments for these folks and if the rest of the population put as much effort into bettering themselves as I have seen these folks put forth, then the world would probably be rolling a bit smoother.” – Ray

“I have a friend that passed away on October 19, 2010. My friend Dane Strassman was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma back in 1996. Dane with his wife and 2 children battled his cancer through chemo for over a year and a half and in 1998 Dane was found to have beaten Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Surviving and beating cancer is an amazing miracle and Dane changed his life completely by eating healthly and being active. But sad to say that on October 19, 2011 my friend Dane was found passed out behind the wheel of his car at a traffic light in Philadelphia, Pa. A short while later he was pronounced dead due to a massive heart attack. Since Dane’s passing his life has been an inspiration to me. I have changed my life by living healthy and living it to the fullest. It just proves that we are here today but are not promised tomorrow.” – Will