Woody's determination to overcome a lifetime of pain and disability is proof that attitude and determination can help you reach your goals in life!
Misdiagnosed until age 22 with two painful, debilitating, and rather rare forms of arthritis that started in his early teens, Woody refused to let it stop him from reaching his goals. While undergoing dozens of accepted and experimental treatments, Woody refused to give up his plans to be a full-time police officer, and became creator and staff officer for a community crime prevention program.
While his spine was fusing, he accepted his doctor's advice to go on disability for a while, since he couldn't lie down or stand for long periods of time. He continued to try to find work, hampered by the fact that, before the Americans with Disabilities Act, potential employers could ask about your health and refuse to hire you because of it.
Woody grew tired of sitting on the sidelines, so he decided to voluntarily go off disability and start his own marketing and events agency, and, later, was the first person with severe arthritis ever to be hired as the executive director of an Arthritis Foundation state chapter.
Five surgeries and a massive heart attack when he was in his 40's (all related to his disease) haven't prevented him from working and being a volunteer in his community. He continues to encourage others to face their fears, see the humor in life, and to develop a positive mindset. Woody offers hope to those who have put up obstacles to their personal and professional growth. He will challenge you to change your attitude and Dare To Exceed!
The Early Years
Woody grew up in Portland, Maine, and spent most of his childhood in Cumberland, a small town on the outskirts of the city. His father died when Woody was only 9, so Woody had to grow up quickly. To this end, he started selling seeds and "all occasion cards" door to door in his neighborhood. He got his first taste of success in sales when he bought a telescope with his earnings! At age 13, Woody toured with a theater troupe throughout Maine, and it was there that he developed a love of magic and comedy. He performed his first paying magic show shortly after.
Woody graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern Maine with a degree in both Criminal Justice and Theater. While attending, Woody was sworn in as the county's youngest deputy sheriff and served as the administrator of a city Police Department's Reserve Police program. He was also active with the University's theater program, both on stage and behind the scenes.In fact, police work and magic shows helped put him through college. He has also completed the pre-service course from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, attended dozens of trainings in human relations, marketing, and leadership, and has taken many post-graduate courses in business and counseling.
From his first sales experience as a child to owner of a successful lakeside resort in Western Maine, Woody has always taken on new and exciting challenges. His first corporation was at age 20, while also working in law enforcement part-time. Then, for health reasons, he had to put a hold on his police career, and started work as the first male family planning counselor in Maine. From there he was hired to create and direct a crime prevention and community relations program as a sworn police officer at a town in Central Maine, under a one-year federal grant. The funding agency called the program design and execution "exemplary", and Woody gave talks on crime prevention to over 10% of the town's population.
About seven years later (see box to right), Woody started a promotional marketing and special events agency, doing events and promotions throughout New England, including store openings, company parties, mall promotions, movie premieres, product launches, and major fundraising events. In fact, his agency became the first private contractor hired by the US Navy to promote an air show! He also continued to present his magic and comedy shows for schools, festivals, and corporations, performing around 175 shows per year, and being hailed as "Maine's most popular magician".
In 1991, Woody was hired as the president and CEO of the Arthritis Foundation's Maine Chapter. In just 5 years (until the northern New England Chapters merged), Woody increased its community service offerings by 1000%, and increased its membership and number of volunteers many times over. He was recognized nationally for his leadership and creativity, and was asked to coach national celebrities for the Annual on-air Telethon. He also spoke to dozens of groups, both in Maine and across the country, teaching people about arthritis and empowering them to fight back again the disease. He wrote many articles on the subject and hosted five live, on-air Telethons in Maine.
Less than a year after the Maine Chapter closed, Woody bought the Highland Lake Resort in Bridgton, Maine, and, within 3 years, doubled its best year's income. He added on a conference center, health spa, and additional housing to the resort, and completely overhauled and refurbished most of the resort's buildings and systems. In 2012, Woody was chosen over 700 other lodging members to receive the Innkeeper of the Year Award by the Maine Innkeepers Association, its highest honor.
Woody graduated from, and was later a member of the Board of Advisors of the Community Leadership Institute (USM), and has been elected to lead numerous local and statewide non-profit agencies and associations, including Board Chair of the following:
Starlight Foundation of Maine* (children's wish organization)
Children's Theatre of Maine* (the oldest continuing one in nation)
Society of American Magicians* (professional association)
Arthritis Foundation, Maine Chapter (health organization)
Maine Public Relations Council (professional association)
Maine Innkeepers Association* (professional association)