In our fourth edition of CBD and Me, we are highlighting the great and powerful Sam Dancer. If you’re a fan of Crossfit, you already know exactly who Sam is. He has made a name for himself as one of the most charismatic and exciting athletes in Crossfit. Sam is not only an elite-level athlete; he is also an amazing human being who truly cares about everyone he comes in contact with.
We got a chance to catch up with Sam last week, and are so excited to introduce him as the newest member of the DirectHemp Family.
Sam’s story is very inspiring. He was born in Springfield, Illinois, moved to Quincy, Illinois, before the age of three, and spent the majority of his life there. Sam was a small kid, starting high school at 130 lbs. He remembers getting bullied often at school; however, he grew quickly, and graduated weighing in at 250lbs.
Instead of taking revenge on the bullies with his newfound size and strength, Sam chose to take the route of peace and found joy in being a gentle warrior. In high school, he loved to play football, and that carried over into his college career at Western Illinois University, where he played football for five years. Sam was an aggressive, hard-hitting player and, because of that, he was injured often. He recalls many broken bones and concussions, which caused him to sit out for basically four of five years.
Finding His True Career Path
After college, Sam (who is legally blind) knew his football career was over and tried to start a career in art focused on ceramics. He had a tough time with that and, like many of us, struggled to find his career path and what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. Through the advice of a mentor who asked what he loved to do, he realized he could become a fitness trainer. He could combine the experience through college football to become an expert around strength and conditioning and physical therapy.
Fitness training was a perfect answer for Sam because he truly enjoys finding creative solutions to fitness and wellness problems. He quickly became an awesome trainer and had the amazing opportunity to work for Laura and Shane Sweat at Crossfit Conjugate, which was a Westside Barbell affiliate. (For those familiar, this probably explains why Sam is so incredibly strong.)
Sam started Crossfit training in 2012. He started competing and finding out where holes were in his training, then filling them. Soon after, he was winning competitions. Sam won second place at games in 2014 on the team side, where he famously deadlifted 655 pounds.
In competition, you may notice that Sam’s fingernails are painted. The nail painting started as nothing more than Sam being an eccentric wildman. However, he started getting a lot of attention for that, and chose to do it intentionally.
“When you paint your nails, you get made fun of,” Sam says. “Perfect example: I was at a grocery store, and a father and daughter noticed my nails. The man made some derogatory comments and tried to make fun of me.”
However, Sam lives by the code of treating everyone with love, respect, and acceptance. People don't have to hold the same beliefs, but can still respect each other.
Helping Athletes with Special Needs
We asked Sam how he ended up focusing on athletes with special needs within his gym, QTown Crossfit. He said it started off as a business decision. Sam was doing an audit and began to ask questions.
“If someone was 500lbs and struggled with mobility, could we service them? If someone was missing a leg or really sick, would we be able to service them?”
He kept asking these questions and realized the answer was, generally, no. At the time, his gym could only serve people who were physically fit or already an athlete. Because of this realization, Sam and his wife, Jennifer, started recruiting people in wheelchairs, people who had missing limbs or were overweight, and people who had any type of special need.
A good friend took a position in the Special Olympics and put them in contact with (King) James Foster. The relationship started out just playing with soccer balls and getting to know each other. From there, Sam was able to teach and coach James into lifting weights, rowing, and eventually becoming a full-fledged athlete. James can now do toes-to-bars, strict pull-ups, snatches, and more. (James turned 33 yesterday, so we would LOVE if our community could go to his Instagram, @KingJamesFoster and wish him a happy birthday.)
Sam fell in love with James. Through their friendship, he learned that the Special Olympics was extremely underfunded and that different sports were getting cut. Sam asked how much money the Special Olympics needed to continue funding their full array of sports.
“Do they need $20,000? $30,000?” Sam asked. “I can help raise that! I’ll put on an event that everyone can do.”
With their can-do attitude, Sam and his wife did just that. They set up teams of ten to row a marathon. Ideally, each team would have a special needs athlete. The event was a huge hit; they were able to raise $20,000 the first year, after only four weeks of planning. Sam and Jenn have continued the trend for nearly seven years. Some years, they’ve raised over $100,000, all of which they donated to the Special Olympics’s nonprofit.
Since then, they’ve started their own nonprofit organization because they wanted to know the funds were being used in their own community. This foundation is called The Dancer Love Foundation. You can learn more about them at DancerLove.org.
Sam’s Journey to CBD
After getting to know Sam more, we were excited to learn about his journey to discovering CBD.
“My journey to CBD was kind of like a reverse gateway,” he says. “I have been a cannabis user for a while, both recreationally and medicinally. I use cannabis socially. When I go out, I will use cannabis recreationally. Medicinally speaking, I’ll use the plant to wind down and help recover.”
In contrast, Sam says college life heavily encouraged the use of pharmaceutical drugs.
“College was a culture that welcomed pharmaceuticals, and that's a part of my life I wish to leave behind me. I try to stay holistic and natural. I would rather use cannabis than take, say, a sleeping pill.”
Sam knew that cannabis had the ability to treat a lot of different things for him. Because of this, he would make his own tinctures, rubs, and balms. He found out quickly that making CBD remedies was always a stinky process. He began to search for products that he didn’t have to create himself.
“The CBD stuff has been very recent,” he says. “By playing around with it a bit, I found out I really enjoyed that I could use it and it wouldn’t affect my head or make me high. But, it would still have a physical effect. With CBD, I like that I don’t have to experience the headiness of cannabis, but I still get the physical effects. It’s like a homeopathic toolbox in one dropper or capsule. Its capacity to alleviate certain symptoms is huge.
“When I start getting into training in years past, I would lower my cannabis use for obvious reasons. I have to have certain conditioning of the cardiovascular system that couldn’t be inhibited by consumption of cannabis. So I would start using rubs and stuff. Like I said, a reverse gateway. I could get a lot of the effects from the hemp plant that I got from the marijuana plant.”
Since welcoming Sam and Jenn into the DirectHemp family, we were able to ask him about his experience with the company and website so far.
“It's hard to speak to the entirety of what DirectHemp has to offer,” he says. “Based on what I’ve been able to try so far, I really like the muscle balms and topicals. Right now, I’m really liking the Original Hemp roll-on and enjoying the Extract Labs muscle cream (I think I went through it in almost a week!). Cured Zen and Rise are also huge. Those four have been my favorites so far.”
Sam says becoming a part of the DirectHemp family felt like a natural next step for him.
“I have been approached by a lot of CBD companies,” he says. “None of them have really felt like a great fit for me.
“Supplements are weird for me. It’s kind of a snakey business, in my opinion. There isn’t a ton of integrity in a lot of supplements. It seems to me that DirectHemp has really gone out of their way to find brands and companies that have a lot of integrity to make great products available to people at different price levels so that everyone can find something for them.
“I have been really impressed with the products, the ingredients used, and the effectiveness of each product. I think that’s missing a lot in the industry right now. DirectHemp is doing a great job partnering with reputable companies that are putting out high quality products with great ingredients that are affordable to everyone.
“I also enjoy how much is available to me there and that I can shop multiple brands, compare and contrast, and find out what is best for me. There is something for everyone, and there is a great amount of variability to meet people's needs. I’m really pleased with this partnership. I’ve held off for a really long time, and I’ve been willing to hold off forever partnering with a CBD or supplement company until I found DirectHemp.com.”
Sam says that, to him, DirectHemp offers a “trusted hub for CBD”. That’s exactly what we set out to do. We also strive to highlight each brand’s unique offerings, and according to Sam, that’s something we do well.
“The website is very easy to navigate, and you are likely to find something you’ll love,” he says.
Are you ready to find the CBD supplements and topicals you love? Click here to browse our product offerings and learn more.