Neftali “Neff” Mendoza is a 26 year old US Marine Veteran that resides in San Antonio, TX. Neff started his career in United States Marine Corps in 2014 at the age of 18 and was stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC. His first unit was the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Alpha Company. Later, he continued in Alpha company attached to 1st Battalion 6th Marines as a BLT aboard the 22nd MEU and conducted operation Odyssey Lighting in the Islamic state of Libya.
In 2018 after retiring from the Marines he continued his career path in Criminal Justice and had enrolled in the Police Academy program for February 2019. Unfortunately, his body had collapsed due to an aortic dissection. This resulted in Neff being hospitalized and being sedated for 3 weeks. Neff woke up to find out he went through 5 major surgeries just to keep him alive. One of those major surgeries was a left leg amputation above the knee.
Neff had a long road to recovery ahead of him, but all he could think about was how he was going to get back into his new routine of running, Jiu Jitsu and his new life as an amputee. Neff started his new life of an amputee, learning and adapting which was hard. Neff started to struggle with anxiety when in hospitals but his biggest struggle was having a colostomy bag for seven months. Depression was starting to take over because he could not adapt or feel normal with a colostomy bag. Neff fought for his doctors to grant him a reversal surgery so the colostomy bag could be removed and in April of 2019 he was granted the surgery. This was a game changer for Neff to feel normal again and get back to getting stronger and resuming some kind of normality to his life.
In May of 2019 Neff received his first prosthetic leg. He did not want to wait on the VA to schedule physical therapy so he wasted no time. He began teaching himself how to walk by watching YouTube videos and reaching out to fellow amputees. Neff was focused and determined to regain his life back through fitness. In October 2019, Neff joined a group called Catapult in Houston, TX as an adaptive athlete and he participated in their paratriathlon. Neff completed a swim, cycle, and running portion of the triathlon without a running prosthetic leg and by using crutches. This triathlon just fueled Neff even further to signing up and completing his first Houston half marathon on a hand cycle bike just 3 weeks after completing the triathlon with Catapult.
Today, Neff’s advice from his older self to his younger self is this. “Just don’t give up, use your time wisely, push through, don’t stop!”. Rediscovering life through running, Jiu Jitsu and CrossFit has forever changed Neff’s life vision and purpose. This US Marine has not only overcome depression but has fully embraced his new life as an Amputee Athlete . He is now empowering others through his story and has dreams of opening up his own gym for those who struggle like he has. Neff is once again an empowered athlete that has no limits. Neff’s story is one that proves what is possible if we surround ourselves with positive people and believe enough in ourselves to never quit, push through and never stop no matter what life throws at us. Neff Mendoza is FORGED PASSION.
Special thanks to Neff Mendoza for serving his country and sharing his story for others to be inspired by.
For more info about Neff Mendoza please visit the IRON COMPANY website https://www.ironcompany.com/forged-passion
If you'd like to share your story of perseverance through fitness to help inspire others, please contact IRON COMPANY today.