Motivation Against All Odds

From the military to the greatest battle of his life, this is Ira Wenze’s story

Ira’s Roots

Ira Harmon Wenze II was born June 4, 1968, to Dr Ira and Alberta Wenze in Kansas City, MO. As the middle child of four, he was raised in Ft. Lauderdale in Florida to age 9. From there his family moved to Valdosta, GA where he continued elementary, middle and high school. His father had trouble with the IRS which prompted his family moving to Georgia. At an early age, his family would endure major hardship financially prompting their move to Georgia. The pressure of this move would turn out to be a life-changing event for Ira and his family.

Although Ira’s father was a physician, life was far from rosy and making ends meet was hard, the pressure and stress of these unfortunate life-changing events cost the life of his father, only at the age of 52, due to a massive heart attack. After this tragic event, Ira grew up fast and strong, he had to become the man of the house because the breadwinner in his family was gone. He fathered his first child 2 weeks before high school graduation. His first child was born in 1986. That same year Ira joined the US Navy and never looked back.

Ira reported to Recruit Training Command Great Lakes for Boot Camp on August 7, 1986. Once he graduated from Boot Camp he went to Hospital Corps “A” school for his job occupation. Ira served. Ira served honorably at 8 duty stations including 2 tours of duty with the USMC. Through relentless hard work and dedication, he was honored to retire as Master Chief Petty Officer, the Navy’s highest enlisted rank. On October 31, 2009, after 23 years, 2 months and 24 days of serving his country, Ira retired from the US Navy.

Meeting His Soulmate While Serving The Country

Ira met his soulmate of 30 years, Venecia, in 1987 who was also serving in the Navy.  They were married on October 2, 1988.  They had 2 children while on active duty,  Ira III born in 1989 and Mya 1999.  Venecia served proudly for 20 years, 10 months attaining the rank of Chief Petty Officer in the world’s finest Navy.

Founding Unlimited Fitness Results

Although Ira retired at the end of October 2009, his dream to start a gym had already been in motion for months and preparations were underway. At the very beginning of 2010, the doors were opened to Unlimited Fitness Results, or better known to its members as UFR. It was a shared vision for the Wenze family, as Venecia and Damascus have worked there alongside Ira and helped grow his gym over the last 8 years.

As a young boy, Ira was always passionate about fitness. He started lifting the Joe Weider cement weights in 1980 at age 12.  All his life, he worked out and read fitness and nutrition books.  At age 23, Ira stepped into the world of competitive bodybuilding and went on to win 7 Bodybuilding Championships.  His dream upon retirement in October 2009 was to start his own Group/Personal Training facility. Ira started preparing months before retirement to open his own facility.  At the very beginning of 2010, the doors were opened to Unlimited Fitness Results better known to its clients as UFR.  It was a shared vision for Ira and Venecia.  Ira and his wife worked hard to grow their facility over the last 8 years.  This would prove to be the most challenging endeavor of their 30 years together.



Impacting Community

Through hard work and dedication to his clients, Ira became a pillar of the community. Ira and his team helped hundreds of people regain their confidence and put them back on the track to a healthier lifestyle.  The difference is everyone at UFR genuinely wanted the best for the clients. Ira once said, “One of the most valuable traits I picked up in the Navy was to believe in others when they might not have believed in themselves. I believe in my clients!”   The UFR facility had been running for 8 years and was showing tremendous growth.  He liked to challenge his clients to be a better version of themselves every step of the way, the last challenge I started was 21 Days 21 Workouts, with the slogan “Are You Up For The Challenge?”. Little did Ira know that he was about to face the biggest challenge of his life.


Facing Life’s Biggest Battle


After a lifetime of being in great shape and eating well, Ira began to feel ill and got what was thought to be a flu. Within 7 days Ira was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. When presented with this news Ira never asked why or feel sorry for himself, he barely skipped a beat.  There was too much work that needed to done to save his life.  Instead, Ira prayed and believed.  Ira was all in 100% with his faith.

The strength Ira had during this challenge was inspiring and positive to many people so much so that it felt like he was comforting everyone else. Ira’s attitude said: “Don’t worry, it will be okay”.  He was facing the big “C” and all seemed to be going very well. That was until after his second scheduled chemotherapy treatment.  He was in remission after his first and second chemotherapy treatments.  After the second treatment, Ira was discharged 6 days later and returned home to continue with his recovery.  A week later the unthinkable happened and Ira would find himself in a battle for his life, according to the doctors, Ira had a very small chance to survive.


You Learn A Lot About Yourself In Your Darkest Moments

 A week after the second chemotherapy treatment Ira woke up on a Tuesday morning with fever and chills.  Venecia took his straight to my Doctor’s office.  His temperature was 103.8 and Ira was struggling hard, moments later he passed out and collapsed on the doctor’s office floor with seizure-like activity.  911 was called and Ira was rushed to the ER where his fever was now over 105.  The medical staff got Ira stabilized and he was on his way to the ICU.  Ira was diagnosed with Pneumonia and Pseudomonas that later evolved into a collapsed lung that would come close to taking his life.  For 16 days Ira lay helpless on “Life Support”.  His beloved wife of 30 years barely left his side.  Finally, Ira awoke, the first thing he saw was his wife, smiling with tears in her eyes, she said: “We almost lost you.” Ira cried every day for the following days, but they were tears of joy because despite everything he had pulled through.  God had graced him with a second chance.

Ira would later learn that from every Doctor that his recovery was a miracle from God.  He had lost over 40 pounds in the 16 days while on life support, he couldn’t talk and had zero mobility in his body.  These were the most humbling moments in his life.  Ira could not care for himself at all.  Ira said: “It felt like I was a baby all over again, I was helpless. It’s a time I will never forget.”

Road To Recovery With A Message To Share

Seven weeks later, Ira walked out of the hospital a new man with a new life. The last part of this journey led him to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, GA for a Bone Marrow Transplant. He would spend 3 weeks in the hospital for this life-saving process. Ira’s Cancer team labelled him a “Medical Marvel” because of his success post-transplant. Ira still in the recovery phase, but his faith is unwavering.

“Even when tested, it’s still my faith that has pulled me through this challenge.  After a lifetime of wanting to help people, this near-death experience has only strengthened my resolve.  I now want to share my experiences, beliefs and how the greatest challenge of my life can be hope and inspiration for others.”