Dancing With The Stars is about much more than winning the mirrorball trophy for war hero, Noah Galloway. He realizes he is an inspiration for others to push beyond physical limitations, but he also hopes to encourage those struggling emotionally to reach out for help.
Galloway dropped out of college at the University of Alabama to go serve his country in response to 9/11. After being deployed to Iraq in 2003, he felt like he was doing what he was called to do for the rest of his life. Shortly after his second tour began in 2005, his life would change forever. The Humvee he was driving on a night mission was hit by a roadside bomb. According to Men’s Health, he woke up nearly a week later, on Christmas Eve, at a military hospital missing an arm and a leg.
Until then, the soldier had lived a very active life and prided himself on being physically fit. He recently told People, he tried to convince himself and those around him that he was okay. However, he was suffering silently inside as he buried his pain and sank further into depression.
“I had this mentality that this isn’t a big deal. I can make this happen.I can make it my own. Everyone kept telling me I was going to go through some stages of depression whether I realized it or not. I was like, not me. I portrayed myself as this invincible person to everyone I knew.”
He opened up about his emotional journey during an episode of Dancing With The Stars. His strong facade apparently worked, because he had friends contact him saying they never realized he had been so depressed.
“I didn’t want to tell anybody. Everyone was so impressed with how well I was doing, so I hid it from everyone. After Dancing With The Stars played that package of me hiding it from everybody, I had buddies of mine call me to say they didn’t realize I went through that.”
One day in 2010, Noah took a hard look in the mirror and realized he was out of shape, miserable, and not being a good father. In that moment, he decided that he needed to stop focusing on what he had lost and appreciate what he still had.
“I drank and I would just sit at home. Or I would go out drinking all the time. I was partying like nothing was wrong. But then there were those moments that I would just sit at home and drink, by myself. Stay up all night.”
The 33-year-old veteran became determined to be the best he could be for his family and himself. “I still had two limbs. I could do something with that. I thought about my kids and how I wasn’t being a good father.”
According to Men’s Health, which featured him as the first-ever reader cover model last year, Galloway got back into the gym. He was too self-conscious to go when others would be there, so he worked out at 2 a.m. Before he knew it, he had transformed both physically and mentally. Since then, he’s completed multiple marathons, CrossFit events, Tough Mudders, and Spartan Races. He said he was terrified of the depression that haunted his past, but the races kept him moving forward.
Noah Galloway said, “I wanted people to see more than my injury.” He accomplished that prior to Dancing With The Stars. He’s done so on an even grander scale since gracing the dance floor with his warrior spirit.
[Image via Taste of Country]