By David Leffler
Wes Hurt isn’t a man of subtleties. He’s in your face. He’s enthusiastic. And yeah, he’s a little all over the place. But when he’s rolling, it’s a sight to behold.
It’s a sunny December day and Hurt and I are driving around Austin in his black pickup swapping life stories. He’s dressed casually—blue jeans, a red v-neck, and sneakers—and has long brown hair that falls onto his shoulders. He seems completely in control as we riff, telling story after story with intermittent exclamations of “dude!” and “I’m telling you, man!” But things weren’t always this way.
Less than two years ago, Hurt was in the throes of addiction and depression. Despite launching the wildly successful Hey Cupcake! franchise—an iconic Austin eatery known for its innovative take on sweet treats—he was spiraling down a path of self-destruction and outright insanity. “I’d always had trouble drinking and drugging, but things took a serious turn when the emotional pressures of life and running a business led me to opiates,” he explains. “That was really the beginning of the end.”
Before long he was addicted to prescription painkillers, consuming as many as 35 Vicodins a day. His wife, Sheila, kicked him out of his house, so he was living in a warehouse smoking crack with a homeless man who he refers to simply as ‘Uncle Frank.’ Hurt’s life was circling the drain, and he knew it. “I thought of just about every way I could kill myself,” admits Hurt. “I was right there. I was standing on the edge of the cliff ready to take the leap.”
But when Hurt looked into the abyss that lay beyond that cliff, he didn’t like what he saw. He saw cold, utter emptiness. He saw regret. At that moment he realized that, as depressed and frustrated as he was, he didn’t want to die. He wasn’t ready to go.
Hurt breaks from telling his story for a moment. We’re sitting in his backyard now, and the sun is peeking through surrounding trees as dusk settles around us. Tears well up in his eyes as he looks up at me, half of his face covered in shadow. He takes a deep breath and gathers himself. “I’m sorry man. I just haven’t thought about some of this stuff in a while. It’s really shaking me up,” he exhales.
Hurt attributes this as the first of two life-saving epiphanies. The second came about a week later. “My heart just sort of fluttered inexplicably. I can’t really articulate it, but I knew it was from the drugs. I thought I was going to die then and there,” he says, struggling to speak. Staring wide-eyed at his mortality, he was convinced his time had come. “Those two experiences changed me,” he reflects. “I had to get out of there.”
Hurt called Sheila and told her everything. She demanded that he come home immediately if he wanted to get clean. She was bawling when he walked through the front door. “I knew the time for a real change had arrived,” he sighs. “The next day was the beginning of a life I’d never previously known.”
That was over a year and a half ago. Hurt’s never looked back, trying to quench his insatiable thirst for creative stimulation. Clear-headed and motivated, Hurt regained faith in his ability to inspire. “I started getting that spark again, which hadn’t happened in years. Within 30 days of getting sober, I came up with the idea I’d long been searching for,” he smiles.
That idea was CLEAN Cause, a premium bottled water company with an ambitious mission: to donate 50% of its profit to aid people struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction. “Addiction is a massive problem that nobody wants to talk about. People are dying from it every day, and we need to do something,” he says. “People often think it’s impossible to combine consumerism with a cause; but we’re bringing those two worlds together harmoniously, and we’re doing it now.”
Pairing his personal story of addiction with his proven business savvy, Hurt has quickly rolled out production for CLEAN Cause. The company currently features three types of water products: a premium purified, an electrolyte, and a sparkling mineral. Each bears CLEAN’s mission of aid and recovery in bold lettering. Although they are currently limited to the Austin area, Hurt has extensive plans to expand regionally and eventually nationally. The company’s new line of organic energy drinks—launching in early 2016 in grapefruit, coconut, and blackberry pomegranate flavors—should increase its visibility.
Hurt’s newfound resolve has him soaring. He’s no longer concerned about appeasing people or fighting off insecurities; instead he’s focused on the matter at hand. He recognizes that many doubt CLEAN’s viability, but he disagrees. “What I’m talking about is radical social awareness that comes in the form of consumerism and funds real, meaningful change. People want be a part of that,” he declares.
For Hurt, it’s as simple as ‘been there, done that.’ He’s built a successful business from the ground up. He’s been on drug benders that got him into dangerous situations and even the slums of Belize. But he’s come out of the other side inspired and equipped to generate change. “All those experiences—Uncle Frank, the addicts I met and the people I hurt—I remember all of it.” he says.
A lot’s changed for Hurt since last year. He’s stayed clean, found a new calling, and his marriage with Sheila couldn’t be better. In fact, they’re expecting a baby boy, Jude, in mid-January. The thing that has sustained is his spontaneity and desire to make an immediate impact. “People always want to make it about tomorrow—they say, ‘Oh you’re impatient.’ I’m impatient? You’re damn right I am, ‘cause I may die, so f*** it. Let’s go dude!”
Let’s go, Wes. We’re ready when you are.
By Nicole Beckley
Shauna Martin is busy. Very busy. “Every moment is scheduled,” she says. Martin has just returned from New York where she’d been coordinating for the launch of her company, Daily Greens, into Fairway Market’s food stores. “In addition to being founder and CEO, I’m kind of primary on marketing so that takes me to a lot of places,” Martin says. In the past year, Martin has launched Daily Greens at Costco, published a book (Daily Greens 4-Day Cleanse), and won the Best Kids’ Beverage award from BevNet for Daily Greens’ Half Pint offering. But busy as she is, she’s also full of energy.
Inside the juice bar at Daily Greens’ Springdale Road headquarters Martin inspects the color of one of the company’s newest offerings, Green Lemonade, whose development was suggested by Costco. “It starts out so green and then yellows through time. I’m trying to figure that out,” she says. With dark hair and lively dark eyes (if she’s wearing any makeup it’s well-disguised). At 44 Martin is glowing. But just over 10 years ago she was in a completely different place.
At 33 Martin was diagnosed with breast cancer after discovering a lump while breastfeeding her son, who was not yet a year old. Martin informed her younger sister, 31, and she too was diagnosed three weeks later. “There were a lot of ‘whys’ for me,” Martin says, “Like why did this happen to us with no family history? So I went on a journey to try to figure out why.” Martin began investigating the links between food and disease. “I came out of chemotherapy really broken down,” Martin says. After a year of surgeries and reconstruction, “I was like, okay, I have to fix myself somehow and that’s when I really turned to food. I started making a green juice every morning and it really helped.”
Growing up in a military family Martin moved around as a kid, but spent her teens and early 20s in Arkansas, graduating from the University of Central Arkansas, and getting her law degree from the University of Arkansas. She went on to a career as a corporate lawyer in Dallas and then Austin. At the time of her green juice revelation her full time devotion was to her law practice. “It’s a pretty ridiculous decision to basically stop practicing law and start making green juice and taking it to the farmer’s market,” Martin says. “Most people thought I was really crazy, but I was so passionate about it, I couldn’t help myself, I had to do it. Because it needed to be done.”
Martin transformed her diet to eliminate animal products, eventually going vegan, a diet she still practices. She juiced every day, carefully creating recipes, and initially transporting her juices to the farmer’s market at Mueller. From there things happened very quickly. Less than a month after its launch, Daily Greens debuted at Wheatsville Co-Op on January 1, 2013. By March they’d gone into Central Market and the Texas region of Whole Foods. Accolades and admirers (The Big Bang Theory’s Mayim Bialik wrote the foreword to Martin’s book) soon followed. Outgrowing their shared kitchen space near Stassney Lane, Daily Greens moved to its current location, the former US Foods distribution building on the east side.
Inside the 20,000-square-foot facility Martin confidently explains each part of the cold-pressing and bottling process. Wearing a jacket and hair net to protect from contamination, Martin points out the juicer, mixing tanks, and filling line. In just a few years she’s become fluent in the mechanical processes and in the beverage industry at large. “That is the one good thing about being a lawyer, you know how to figure things out,” Martin says.
Sitting inside Martin’s office, whose wall showcases two framed pieces of art done by her son, Cooper, now 11, Martin shares her best business advice, “I always say to would-be entrepreneurs, before you jump off the cliff, make sure whatever you’re pursuing you believe in with your entire mind, body, soul because it will be hard.”
Beyond the business is Martin’s devoted belief in her company’s mission and origin. “The breast cancer experience changes you, probably permanently, and you kind of are faced with your own mortality at a really young age,” Martin says. “It definitely drives me to live every day to the fullest. I try to make sure I go to bed every night knowing that I did everything I could, both for my business and personally.”
By Nicole Beckley
It’s Monday morning and Beto Boggiano is ordering a latte from the coffee bar inside the downtown location of his gym, Pure Austin. The rush of early morning exercisers has passed, but Boggiano says when it gets really busy he’ll jump behind the bar and help make the coffee. At 48, Boggiano is youthful with blue eyes and blonde hair that’s just slightly graying at the temples. He projects an easy confidence, and as patrons enter Boggiano greets them like old friends, inquiring about their lives and successes.
As the owner of Pure Austin, Boggiano recognizes that for most regular patrons, outside of work and home, the gym is the third most frequented place in their lives. “We have 5,000 members, and 2,000 of them,” Boggiano says, “come through on Monday, so they use it a lot.”
In a way, Pure Austin lives up to its name by design, tapping into the classic “Austin” non-conformist ethos. Founding the downtown location in 1999, Boggiano wanted Pure Austin to re-define the type of place a gym could be, starting with eschewing the look and feel of national chain gyms. “I would go to conferences for continuing educational credits for personal training and I noticed that all the gyms looked the same, even the paint color on the walls and the layout,” Boggiano says.
Before settling on the natural light-infused modern industrial feel of the downtown location of Pure Austin, Boggiano and his team scouted design ideas at bars and restaurants in Chicago. “We got our ideas from places that people love to go, to celebrate, to hang out,” Boggiano explains. They wanted to make the third most visited place in people’s lives a place they actually wanted to be.
In the office next to his, Boggiano’s wife Danielle stands near the doorway, which is overflowing with boxes of mailouts for members. For the holidays, Pure Austin is mailing every member guest passes. They want to make sure their members can bring in visiting friends and family members. Past the mailouts is Boggiano’s office, and shelves lined with photos of his family doing outdoor activities.
For Boggiano, his path to fitness came out of a left turn. Spending his formative years in El Paso, Texas, as an early teen Boggiano discovered the easy access to drinking and drugs across the border in Juarez, Mexico. “I was a really curious kid, hanging out with older kids. I went downhill really quick. I dropped out of school, ran away from home, got arrested,” Boggiano says. By 16 he had hit rock bottom. After going AWOL from military school, he recognized that he wanted to quit, and went through an intense rehab. Though struggling to keep himself accountable, after his older sister died in a car accident his will to change his life kicked in. “Tragic stories, everybody has horrible things that have happened, everyone has a story,” Boggiano says, “But don’t whine, change your life, make it to where it’s positive.”
This want for positivity helped lead Boggiano toward physical fitness. “I started working out because I felt that, and I think that anybody who’s predisposed to this, can’t stay idle,” Boggiano says, “I started riding my bike and then I started working out at gyms. Yeah, it gives you a rush when you work out, but there’s other things too, it’s almost a natural antidepressant.”
Beyond the endorphin boost, Boggiano felt compelled by the sense of renewed confidence and social opportunities that working out brought. “I think the key to staying clean—I wouldn’t say just staying clean, but staying happy—is that you have to learn how to have a good time,” Boggiano raps his knuckles against his desk for emphasis, “It’s true, man. You have to learn how to have a good time!”
Part of having a good time, in Boggiano’s world, involves taking on new challenges. In 2006 Pure Austin opened their Quarry Lake location, giving members access to standup paddleboarding and kayaking and in 2014 launched Rail Training, next door to Rogue Running. “We either want to be the first, the best, or the only,” Boggiano says, “I think if you hit one of those three things, you’re gonna do pretty well.”
Ultimately the core of Boggiano’s philosophy lies in utilizing others’ strengths. “You can’t do something by yourself, no matter how much wisdom you have in life,” Boggiano says, “Surround yourself with good people; honest people will tell you exactly what’s going on.” At his desk Boggiano is getting ready for a day of interacting with his staff, coaches, and gym visitors. “It’s simple,” he says, “It’s not easy, but it’s simple.”
By Tony Dreibus
Between the healthy eating, the weightlifting and the cardio, Don Chalmers is healthier than most 50-year olds.
Thing is, he’s 80.
Chalmers, or `Dr. Don’ as some people call him, can be found on any given day eating at Casa De Luz, an all-organic vegetarian hotspot near Zilker Park, or working out at his apartment gym with his personal trainer, Dustin Bolin.
He’s very analytical and looks every bit the part of a scientist with his gray sweater and reading glasses that split in the front.
He studies health like he’s back in dental school, and believes whole-heartedly that adhering to his three pillars of health—aerobic exercise, nutrition and weight training—has added to not only the length of his life, but also its quality.
Health is fascinating to the former dentist who will arm wrestle younger men when challenged and show off his biceps if asked. Fitness is a “personal investment,” he says.
Not surprising, considering his father died at the age of 62 with blocked arteries.
“It’s my insurance,” he says over dinner at Casa de Luz. “If I stay in as good of shape as I can and eat healthy, I don’t have to die of something I was going to die from (at a younger age). Quality of life is what I care about.”
Chalmers is a retired oral and maxillofacial surgeon who in November 2014 moved to Austin from Houston. He was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy working as a dentist after graduating from dental school in the 1960s, and during the Vietnam War was attached to Fleet Marine Forces at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina.
After that, he worked as a dental surgeon for 13 years. Upon retiring from the field, he undertook various business ventures including building and running two hospitals: the Houston Northwest Medical Center and the Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center, also in Houston, seeing the need for facilities in underserved areas of the city.
He was always into fitness, he says, and it's not uncommon for people to mistake Chalmers for a younger man.
When he sees people with whom he went to school or grew up with, they’re often amazed at his appearance and overall fitness. It’s conversations like he had with an old friend recently that makes him glad he’s stayed in shape and exercised regularly his entire life.
“I had a classmate who says `I wish I would’ve,’” he says. “I never want to say `I wish I would’ve.’”
For aerobic exercise, Chalmers focuses his efforts on walking fast for 45 minutes at a time or using an elliptical. He avoids long-distance running or other endurance athletics because he feels it can do more damage than good in certain people.
He eats at Casa de Luz every day as the freshly grown food contains all of the vitamins and minerals a body needs, he says. As with many people, he never found vegetarian food to be tasty, but once he tried the food at the restaurant, he was convinced it’s all in the preparation.
That’s not to say he’s not human—to be sure, he will have what most people call a “cheat day” where he eats foods he normally wouldn’t.
“Everybody has to eat out of bounds once in a while,” he says. “There’s no way most people can be that disciplined.”
Sometimes, Chalmers says, he’ll eat a hamburger, depending on what his workout calls for that particular day. He avoids pizza altogether, because he doesn’t feel it’s worth it.
At the end of the day, Chalmers says, people should eat as much plant-based material as possible and avoid foods that obviously aren’t healthy.
“If you eat out of bounds, eat out of bounds rarely, not frequently,” he says.
He lifts three times a week, switching to new muscle groups each session. The regimen obviously works as Chalmers is fit by any standards, much less those for an 80-year-old.
Chalmers says he recently discovered yoga, which is good for blood flow and flexibility. Like many athletes, he didn’t think about the positive benefits of yoga until he tried it. He also didn’t realize how difficult it would be.
“I didn’t have much respect for it until I took a class,” he says. “I had a desire for more flexibility.”
Chalmers does have a fourth tenet in life—self-forgiveness. People are often focused on the wrong things like weight and other measures that aren’t strong indicators of fitness. Instead, they should set goals and do what they can to meet those goals, and definitely not buy into what popular culture tells them is “fit.”
Finally, he logs his caloric intake and the number of calories he burns each day.
While the system works for him, it borderlines on obsession, an assertion with which he doesn’t necessarily disagree. It’s all about balance, as with anything in life, but with his family’s history of heart problems, Chalmers says he’s not taking any chances.
“Prevention by proper nutrition and fitness is all you can do,” he says. “You can’t change your genetics but you don’t have to give up because of your genetics. You may say I’m a little impulsive. Definitely. It’s OK, as long as you’re functional.”
By Tony Dreibus
Forgive Kristine Lilly if she can’t seem to slow down, even after four years of “retirement.”
It comes with the territory when you’ve been training to be the best at what you do for the better part of four decades.
Lilly is among the most accomplished soccer players in the history of the sport. In her 44 years, the Connecticut native who now calls Austin her home, has a list of accolades so long it would probably take up less space to say which awards she hasn’t won.
A 23-year veteran of the U.S. Women’s National Team who’s played in five World Cups and three Olympics, she's also a three-time U.S. soccer player of the year and all-time leader in minutes played—and that’s just scratching the surface. Lilly’s resume speaks for itself.
Life is a little slower these days, but not much.
Lilly, who moved to Austin in 2014 with her husband and two daughters, was offered a volunteer coaching slot from University of Texas women’s head coach Angela Kelly, with whom she played at the University of North Carolina. She also runs soccer clinics with her business partners and lifelong friends Mia Hamm and Tish Venturini, fellow members of the USWNT.
These days, she says, it’s all about returning what she can to the sport.
“The game has given me so much, and I want to give back as much as I can,” she said. “What’s so great is when I do camps with Mia and Tish, and we get to teach the game we love. Not everyone can do that.”
As a coach with the UT women’s team, she still gets the itch to go play occasionally, and once in a while, she admits, she’ll turn it on and teach the college kids how it’s done.
While she misses the game she’s played since she was a small child, she now has two daughters of her own and a business teaching young people the ins and outs of the beautiful game, leaving her little time to enjoy retirement.
“I’m busy enough teaching soccer and taking care of my kids—that definitely takes away from any downtime,” she said.
Lilly doesn’t force her daughters to play soccer, though they both do. Her eldest, 7, also plays basketball while the younger of the two, who is 4, is enrolled in gymnastics.
It may be too early to tell whether her children will be international superstars, but Lilly knew at a young age what she wanted.
She started her international career as a 16-year-old junior in high school.
When most kids are happy to be getting their driver’s licenses, Lilly was gallivanting around the world with the U.S. Women’s National Team. Her first match, called a ‘cap’ in soccer vernacular, was on Aug. 3, 1987, against China, launching one of the most storied careers in any sport.
After winning three state titles in high school, Lilly went on to win four national championships at the University of North Carolina, where she was also a four-time All-American. In 1993 she was named U.S. Soccer’s Chevy Female Athlete of the Year.
As a 20-year-old, she was a member of the team that won the first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991, a feat the team repeated in 1999. She also played on the 1995, 2003 and 2007 teams. Lilly competed in the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympics, winning two golds and a silver.
She was named U.S. soccer player of the year in 1993, 2005 and 2006, was the captain of the USWNT from 2005 to 2007, was named to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2012 and the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame in 2014.
Recently, she found time to author a book `Girls Soccer: My Story by Kristine Lilly.’
Despite, or perhaps because of, all of her accolades, her medals and her fame on the international stage, Lilly is humble about her life and her career.
Ask her about her long—her very long—list of awards and she coyly says she was surrounded by good people who helped her succeed. Ask her about the championships and all the credit is deflected to her teammates.
She is proud of one thing—helping put women’s soccer, and women’s sports in general, on the map. The general public has accepted women’s sports, now society as a whole needs to support the teams, while it will no doubt take a long time.
Lilly admits that even as a young girl, she didn’t support the U.S. Women’s National Team, but only because she didn’t know it existed prior to joining the squad. People didn’t play soccer in the ‘80s, instead the boys played football and baseball and the girls might play softball or basketball. But soccer, back then, wasn’t a thing.
That all began to change in the early 1990s. The USWNT won the first-ever Women’s World Cup in 1991, putting U.S. women’s soccer in the spotlight. That was followed in 1996 by a gold medal in the Atlanta summer games, the first time women’s soccer had been played in the Olympics.
Three years later, in 1999, the USMNT again won the World Cup, this time in dramatic fashion when Brandi Chastain sealed the victory with a penalty kick, a moment seared into the memories of those who were watching the match.
“That was really the forefront,” Lilly said. The World Cup and Olympic wins “really changed a lot of society. There are a lot of girls playing soccer now, there are women in over-40 leagues. That changed the culture.”
Looking back, she said she wasn’t out to change the world, but she was one of those who facilitated change, or at the very least the perception of women’s sports.
Her teammates, she said, made it all worthwhile. Each member knew they were part of something bigger than themselves, and they all played for each other.
They played well, and had fun while doing so.
“Winning is fun,” she said. “How can you not have fun winning?”
Still, all the gold medals, all the championships and all the World Cup wins aren’t what Lilly talks about when asked about her fondest memories of those years, or why she deflects the praise to her teammates.
Instead, she realizes that the team was bigger than the sum of its parts.
“When we look back at it, we say we were part of something great,” she said. “That’s how we all feel. We had some losses but we won a lot. In the meantime, we were making a difference. It wasn’t about winning, it was about changing people’s views on soccer, and that’s been pretty cool.”