Vince Brasco, a 4’1”, 92-pound bodybuilder and volunteer firefighter, isn’t an arsonist, but he’s lit a figurative flame under Greensburg, PA.
“Vince works so hard it motivates you,” Ray McCanna, a high school teacher of Brasco’s, told The Daily Caller.
Brasco suffers from achondroplasia dwarfism, but his lack of size hasn’t stopped him from pursuing a bodybuilding career.
“I saw too many people with dwarfism who had a lot of health problems that I didn’t like — it was pissing me off,” said Brasco, explaining why he began lifting weights at 16 years old. “I didn’t want to be that person.”
Now, he’s capable of bench pressing as much as 285 pounds — more than three times his body weight.
Brasco can also bench 225 pounds 15 times, the same amount of surgeries he’s been forced to endure, including spinal fusion and decompression operations.
“[Vince would] lift right up until surgery and be distraught he couldn’t get back in the gym,” McCanna told TheDC. “No matter how hard of a hand life dealt him, you’d never see him down. He’s always positive.”
Brasco has faced opposition from his physicians, who have warned him against heavy lifting in the past.
“A lot of doctors have told me I can’t do different exercises, but it’s not them doing it, it’s me,” Brasco said.
Derrick Komarinski, a friend who grew up with Brasco, said he’s a celebrity at the local LA Fitness, where he works.
“I have personally seen someone come up to him at the gym and tell him how inspiring his story is,” said Komarinski.
Brasco’s story also includes six years as a volunteer firefighter. He’s the shortest fireman ever, according to World Record Academy.
“There are times when he’ll be in the gym with me and he’ll just get up, grab his stuff and run out the door,” said Komarinski. “He’ll come back later and say, ‘Oh, just had a fire call.'”
Brasco is aiming to become a bench press world record holder. He’ll compete in his first competition on April 7, and plans on participating in the 2014 Arnold Classic.
“[Vince’s story] gets people to really look at themselves and ask, ‘If he can do it,’” said Komarkinski, “why can’t I?”