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Local Weightlifer Relies on Faith During Darkest Hour

Lanny Shepard Perseveres, Despite Losing Everything in Fire.

02A146R1; Weights

Lanny Shepard has spent his life pursuing big dreams.

"For eight years, before I won my first national championship, I didn't miss one workout," Shepard said. "Being consistent and committed to what you're doing. That's the key to the whole thing."

Shepard made the most of his time in the gym, winning 11 state championships for power lifting. He went on to win six national championships, and one world title, setting records along the way, some which still stand today.

However, you won't see any pictures from those days, or find the trophies on his mantle. Shepard lost everything on New Year's Eve of 2009, when a fire destroyed his gym and the apartments he owned and used to house the homeless.

"A lady came to the back and knocked on my door and said the gym's on fire," Shepard said. I ran up front, and by the time I got there, it was burning up through the ceiling. We worked hard, and got everybody out back.

"By that time, the smoke was so black, you couldn't see anything. It was a tragic thing."

His business, his belongings and his mementos were gone. But, Shepard says he still had his most important possession.

"When I die, I don't want to have on my tombstone that he was a great lifter or he was a golfer," Shepard said. "I want it to say that he loved the lord. That's the number one thing in my life."

Shepard didn't stay down for long. He threw himself into his work at New Hope Baptist Church, the oldest Baptist Church in Coffee County, helping to start the Interfaith Help Center for those less fortunate.

Although he doesn't lift competitively anymore, Shepard also found time to continue with his other passion, working out.

"The desire to work out just came from the fact that I enjoy working out myself, and I enjoy helping others work out also," Shepard said."

Shepard opened Lanny's Fitness in 1978, and operated it until it was destroyed by fire three years ago. He says he won't open another gym, because it's time for a new challenge.


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