Poconos Coal

Frackville veteran determined not to lose a step

Derek Flail is inspired to inspire.

SCHUYLKILL HAVEN, Pa. - Most of us have something that drives us, something that forces us to step up.

"I think you go stale, if you don't continue to challenge yourself every day. I think you just kind of flat line," begins Derek Flail.

When Derek joined the Army back in 2005 and was deployed to the Middle East, he says the challenge was to keep going so he led the workouts.

"They would call it the house of pain," he laughs, adding, "It got us through our deployment."

When he got home, he took that passion to help others with their own challenges, to a new place.

He's the general manager of "The Jungle," a gym in Schuylkill Haven.

They train everyone here, the ones who have already made a name for themselves, and the ones who are on their way.

The walls are full of newspaper clippings of now-NFL players, of high school kickers, a female Citadel graduate breaking records…

"They could be arch rivals, but they'll come here and work out getting ready for whatever they're going to do," Derek says.

Anyone who wants to challenge themselves is welcome here, including the boss.

"I don't want to be the guy that says “do this, do that” I want to be the guy that can do that," he explains.

So how does a guy like Derek go bigger? He goes higher.

On February 7, Derek will be one of just 60 people chosen by lottery to run up the Empire State Building's steps - all 1,576 of them.

That's 86 floors, and 1,000 plus feet up.

He's been trying for years to be chosen but maybe this year, there's a reason he got in.

Derek's biggest challenge yet, hasn't even been his own. His mother has had three bouts of cancer, in the last 14 months.

"She went through chemo’s and chemo’s and chemo's and the crazy thing is she's worried about me and my brothers, never about herself," he says softly.

Now, "keep going" has taken on new meaning.

"That's something that drives me. I don't think I've ever told her that but that's something that drives me every single day. The way I watched her battle it," Derek tells us.

Derek's goal won't be easy. It's quite the climb but he's determined to do it.

"If I'm that guy climbing up like I got shot in the legs, I'm going to make it!" he smiles.

All our challenges come in different forms, and everybody's looks a little different.

But the thing about every one of them? They all begin, with the first step.

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