FAIRHAVEN, Mass. (WPRI) — Anyone who doubted Pete Bruce learned not to after he proved so many doubters wrong.
One example: Bruce weighs in at about 120 pounds, but he’s bench-pressed more than two and half times that, hoisting 315 from his back.
“Twice,” he said. “Because the third time it started cracking my elbow.”
This 27-year old was born with Pierre Robin Syndrome, which caused his left leg to stop growing at the knee, both arms stopped at the elbows and his tongue and lower lip were fused as well.
“I think I was put here, exactly the way I am, for a reason.”
He never met his biological parents but was welcomed into a very large Dartmouth family as the third youngest of 10 adopted kids.
Anyone who suggested caution when he tried something new heard a sharp, gruff, 10-word warning from his dad.
“Back off,” Bruce recalled his dad saying to doubters. “Let him do it, and he’ll do it.”
Among the more mundane, but important tasks he figured out how to do: “Clothe myself. Brush my hair,” he said. “Brush my teeth. Ride a bike.”
Bruce played football, volleyball and ran track in high school.
He still plays the drums and he’s licensed to drive, with one restriction from the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
“They don’t want me to drive a standard,” he said.
As we watched him sweat out one of his three-hour, six-day-a-week workouts, he told us exercise pulled him out of a time in his late teens when he was angry, depressed and headed down the wrong path.
But weights, and faith, brought him back.
Now, he wants to help others find the focus he found.
“My heart is going to be thankful and grateful just to know that I wake up every day,” he said. “You have hands, I don’t. But yet, I have arms. Some people don’t have arms, but they still have a body, they can move things around.”
After nearly a dozen more surgical procedures, he plans on launching a motivational speaking career based on his religious faith, so he can tell his story around the world.