BLESSED TO BE ALIVE: David Webb’s road to recovery after near-death strokes is nothing short of a miracle, one that has him thankful for being given a second chance

By Bob Labbe | Living 50 Plus

David Webb continues to follow his road to recovery. The world record-setting powerlifter is currently making headway on his journey after suffering near-death strokes in early 2022 and to the amazement to everyone, including his doctors, Webb is again lifting weights in record form and earlier in 2024 achieved what is known in the sport as being a member of the 1000-pound club.

“I saw my neurologist in January, and was cleared for a year with no restrictions, but instructions to be smart,” said the 66-year-old Webb. “This road required a lot of help from my friends at Powerhouse Gym and my training partner as without the support from the personal trainers of Nate, Nathan and Josh and their constant encouragement, I would not be where I am today. My wife, Nancy has been my rock and the one person who kept me in line of not overdoing my recovery.”

Listening to Nancy, working with therapists and following the guidance from his doctors, Webb was determined to show all concerned he would make a comeback. His true grit and pure spunk pushed him to stand tall, overcome his limitations and to make his way to the lifting platform for the competition he desires. After 10 months of rehabilitation, he returned to competing in November 2022. In a new age bracket of 65-69 Webb was back at his old form of setting records. In his first competition, he set a new bench press world record of 226 pounds in two different categories. He also set 11 new state records in his first meet since his strokes. Two weeks later in Decatur at the Golden Ape Power Challenge he moved to a higher weight class and set 12 new state records.

“Those meets were very rewarding as the weights I’m lifting now is different as my form is better and I feel my strength is solid,” said Webb. “But one thing I did learn is the fact I had a second chance at life and I wasn’t going to blow it. I was going to run it up the flagpole. I have the entire use of my body and I feel I’m blessed beyond measure.”

Webb also feels he’s blessed just to be alive.

After retiring from his job on Redstone Arsenal, Webb suffered a massive stroke near his brain stem in January 2022, just days after his last day of working his fulltime job. He was going through a training workout when he had his incident. Upon being rushed to Crestwood Hospital he was assessed, and doctors indicated there was 99-percent blockage and he was immediately started on an IV and administered a “clot-buster,” a drug used to break up a clot and help restore blood flow to the brain. The stroke was located on his left side. After being stabilized, Webb was transferred to Huntsville Hospital’s Neurology ICU Unit where he remained under constant care for 13 days.

“I felt lucky just to be alive,” said Webb. “I know a lot of prayers came my way and soon more miracles were coming my way. My neurologist, Dr. Kate Heaton, oversaw my case and she was spot-on with her diagnosis. She said there would be a great chance of having another stroke, and once released to go home, to stay home, rest and recover.”

On Super Bowl Sunday, just 17 days after his original episode, Webb again suffered another stroke this time on his right side. His doctor told him his days as a powerlifter were over and physical therapy would be required to regain most of his functions, including walking again.”

Webb began his therapy where he could not let go of the use of his walker to walking with a cane in just four weeks. He felt his trainer had challenged him in ways he never knew was possible. Webb was soon released by Dr. Heaton to begin lifting a light number of weights, but Webb had other plans, which included returning to a competition level of powerlifting.

The first attempts at lifting weights were eye-opening and humbling. Webb went from competition squatting 280-pounds to barely able to squat the 45-pound bar. He struggled to curl a five-pound dumbbell, bench press 90-pounds or deadlift more than 150-pounds. “I knew right away I was on a long road to recovery,” added Webb, who indicated his road included many friends at Powerhouse Gym and his workout partner, Bobby Brown. “I still thought I could compete as I wondered how long of a road was it going to be.”

For the exceptionally positive and proactive Webb, additional miracles were about to be bestowed upon him on his road to recovery.

In November of 2023, Webb set nine state records in four different categories in the World Raw Powerlifting Federation Big Ape Competition in Decatur. In March of this year, he took additional steps in his own mind of recovery by setting Alabama state records at the U.S. Powerlifting Association Buddy Capps Classic competition in Louisville, Ky. It was during that meet he joined the elusive 1000 Pound Club by lifting a total of over 1,000 pounds in total lifts of the bench, deadlift and squat.

“I’m very blessed. I’m stronger now than before my strokes and I thank the Lord for giving me another day,” said Webb.

Although his lifting marks are impressive, Webb still battles the effects of the strokes as his right side of his body is numb from his knee to his neck all the way to the top of his head. There is no pain, but he only has what he believes is feeling of about 10-percent of the pressure in his hand when he grabs an object like a bar in the weight room.

“I have to watch the bar carefully as I’m squeezing, but I can’t tell how much pressure I’m putting on the lift as I have to keep my right hand level with my left when I lift,” explained Webb. “It’s a little weird. I can’t feel it. I must consciencely pull my right side up to match my left. My stamina is not as great as before my strokes. I notice I take more naps than I did before my strokes. But one thing that has been good is my eyesight. I had double vision after my strokes, but that situation has been restored as I see as good as I ever have. My voice box was affected by the strokes. That hasn’t gotten much better.”

Before his strokes, Webb was lifting a total of 942 pounds. He’s now over the 1,000-pound mark and among the elite in his diverse class of lifters. He normally competes in the 165-181.7-pound weight class master’s 65-69 age division. His summer competition schedule included the Southeast Regional Championships in Orange Beach, Ala and the Alabama State Games where powerlifting was being included for the first time in the Games’ 40-year history. That event is a qualifier for the 2024 State Games of America set to be hosted in San Diego later this year.

Webb hopes to make it to Charleston, S.C. in November for the North American Championships. There, he hopes to set three world records as he once held three other world marks, but two have since been beaten. Holding onto one current world record is an achievement he’s extremely proud off. “There are reasons certain people were put in my life during this time as at one time I never really understood the severity of my stroke as I struggled just to walk and my doctor said they’ve never seen this type of condition from a stroke revamp so quickly,” said Webb. “I guess I’m an anomaly.”

Growing up in Louisville, Ky., Webb didn’t partake in athletics until his four-year stint in the U.S. Army where he played racquetball, softball, bowling and the martial arts. Once moving to Alabama in 1983 and taking up residence in the area of Monrovia-Madison, he became an Alabama state champion racquetball player and disc golfer. He also earned his teaching certificate for U.S. Kids Golf. Prior to his strokes he has set numerous state, national and world records in powerlifting.

Webb is determined to succeed and prove to himself he can survive. He’s also eager to show others how they have affected his life in a positive and successful way. His message to others who may suffer similar medical conditions and get a second chance is to surround themselves with others who can help and to encourage you to do your part as others around you are impacted by your pain and suffering.

“I feel fantastic. I’m very blessed. I’ve clawed my way back little more than two years after my two strokes,” said Webb. “I know I have a second chance and with all of that support on my road to recovery, I can’t fail.”