July 11, 2023
IN MEMORY Reinhoudt’s legacy of sharing strengths
But when you talk about Don Reinhoudt, we’re not sure legend is a big or strong enough word.
Most area residents know about Reinhoudt’s feats of strength. In the late 1970s and early 1980s Reinhoudt won five consecutive National Super Heavy Weight Championships for weight lifting, each of which led to an invitation to represent the United States at the World Power Lifting Championships — where Reinhoudt earned first place trophies. He then was invited to compete in the World Strongest Man competition hosted at that time on the ABC Wide World of Sports, bringing the title of World’s Strongest Man home to Chautauqua County. “Big Don” was inducted into the International Power Lifting Hall of Fame, the National Power Lifting Hall of Fame, the New York State Power Lifting Hall of Fame, the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, the York Barbell Sports Hall of Fame, the Old Time Barbell and Strongman Hall of Fame and the Chautauqua County Sports Hall of Fame.
Don Reinhoudt didn’t want to be known simply as the strong guy from television. He used his platform to inspire thousands of children with his feats of strength — who can forget Reinhoudt popping a hot water bottle or putting a nail into wood with his hands — accompanied by his message to persevere through life’s difficulties and to continue striving to achieve one’s goals in life.
“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 during an appearance at Cassadaga Valley in 2019. “That’s what I’m all about. That’s what I want you to remember Don for.”
What Reinhoudt did athletically landed him in many Halls of Fame. What he did with the rest of his life is what made Don Reinhoudt a Hall of Fame person. Chautauqua County lost a giant last week — both literally and figuratively.