By ANNE GREGORY
NORTH MANCHESTER — Bob Wieland was a medic in Vietnam June 14, 1969, coming to the aid of a fallen soldier, when a booby trap with an 82mm mortar shell blew off his legs. He was pronounced dead and placed in a body bag. But he wasn’t finished living — and the best was yet to come.
Wieland, who crossed the United States on his hands in a journey that lasted nearly four years, will challenge Manchester University students to set ambitious goals and not let obstacles or hardships keep them from realizing their dreams.
He is bringing his inspirational message, “Unleash the Champion Within,” to the North Manchester campus at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8. The presentation in Cordier Auditorium is free and open to the public.
After his injury, the former high school all-star athlete at first was able to lift only 5-pound weights but went on to be a strength coach for the Green Bay Packers, a record-setting weightlifter, marathoner and triathlete.
Wieland challenges audience members to be committed to the mission of the businesses, organizations and communities in which they are involved.
His speech at Manchester is sponsored by the athletics department and the Values, Ideas and the Arts Committee. His visit was made possible by a donation from a friend of the university as a gift to MU students and the surrounding community.
The program is in conjunction with the launch of a speakers’ series at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church. Wieland will give the sermon Sunday, Oct. 11, at the church, 113 W. Main St., North Manchester.
Wieland will also speak at the Oct. 8 North Manchester Chamber of Commerce breakfast program. Zion Lutheran said organizers of his visit are exploring additional speaking opportunities for him.
The presentation on campus is part of the University’s Values, Ideas and the Arts series.