by Jordan Patterson
October 31, 2019
‘You Can Be Anything’
SINCLAIRVILLE — Don Reinhoudt, known for moving ridiculously heavy objects, spoke to Cassadaga Valley students in an effort to lift their spirits.
And his message was simple: Never give up.
“Don’t ever, please, don’t ever sell yourself short,” said Reinhoudt, a former world’s strongest man who competed internationally in strongman competitions. “You can be anything you want in this world. It takes by going to school, listening to your teachers, your moms and dads and by not quitting on yourself.
Inside Cassadaga Valley Central School on Wednesday, Reinhoudt told stories to students, who he noted were young enough to be his grandchildren, about how he became the world’s strongest man while competing in the 1970s. A video was also screened that displayed his numerous feats of strength as he competed for the title he is most known for.
Reinhoudt was most recently inducted into the National Strength and Power Hall of Fame in 2018, marking the eighth hall of fame that features his name. In the same year, he was named in the Top 10 All-Time Strongman of the Century by the International Powerlifting Federation. He also served as the director of the Chautauqua County Youth Bureau for a number of years.
Even during his time competing, Reinhoudt would provide motivational presentations that used to feature him showing off his strength. A typical show some 15 years ago would consist of him splitting license plates, bending metal pipes and ripping phone books with his bare hands. Now, the 75-year-old said those days are behind him, adding that he can contribute by other means.
His list of accomplishments over the years include a 2,500-pound car lift; a 1,000-pound back lift; a 20,000-pound truck pull; a 10,000-pound tram pull; a 350-pound log lift; a 300-pound barrel lift; and a 175-pound dumbbell press.
To get to this level, Reinhoudt said he would train in a gym in his basement after working an eight-hour shift at his father’s accounting firm.
And despite these extraordinary feats of strength, Reinhoudt told students, when asked about his favorite accomplishment, that he cherishes being a father most of all.
Many of the video clips shown Wednesday featured some of these historical record-breaking moments.
In several interviews following his performances, Reinhoudt was soft-spoken and remained humble, as was evident Wednesday.
“It’s just an honor to be here,” he said often.
One student in the Cassadaga audience noticed this glaring characteristic of Reinhoudt. During the question portion of the presentation, students offered various inquiries about Reinhoudt’s strength, his thoughts on steroids and his work ethic. But this particular student offered a compliment instead. “I love how you have respect for everyone around you,” she said.
Reinhoudt responded, “Thank you so much.”
“That’s what I’m all about,” he continued. “I try to be as honest as I can.”
Reinhoudt circled back to the idea of simply not quitting. Even in Reinhoudt’s prime, he said he was laughed at when sharing his story, noting he could have quit at any given moment. And still, despite his successes and being the world’s strongest man, he said “That isn’t what I’m all about.”
“I’m a guy who struggled, who worked, who decided to make something out of his life to use it to work with other people,” he said. “That’s what I’m all about. That’s what I want you to remember Don for.”