Gibsonia man crowned ‘Fittest in the World’ while battling multiple sclerosis keeps positive mindset

GIBSONIA, Pa. — A local man was diagnosed with a neurological disease, and it left him pondering why: “I am a big believer in Karma, and I thought what had I done in my life to kind of deserve this.”

Brett Horchar of Gibsonia didn’t let it stop him from being crowned the “Fittest in the World” in a new division of the CrossFit Games this year. His mindset and actions make us proud to be from Pittsburgh.

“Out of nowhere, this just hits here with my right leg, I had to start thinking how to physically pick it up, step forward and pull myself forward with every step,” said Horchar.

Four years ago, Horchar, a very active 21-year-old fitness instructor, was suddenly unable to walk. He was diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis, also known as MS.

“I was scared, I was confused, it was a long recovery process to work on just regaining the basic training cycles of life,” said Horchar. “You knew how to walk since you’re one year old and now I am 21 and I’m learning how to walk again.”

Horchar said people have two options after being diagnosed, and that choice really defines your future.

“You have two options in life, either let it hold you down or do something about it,” said Horchar. “So at every opportunity, look for the change to grab that silver lining and head forward in life.”

And moving forward is just what Horchar did. After spending a few weeks in the hospital, he went back to the gym. Slowly relearning the movements of running, pullups and squats.

“I looked like Forrest Gump when I was jogging, it was a sight to see, but I practiced,” said Horchar.

And now this year, he participated on the international stage in Madison Wisconsin at the CrossFit Games. There were several new divisions created for adaptive athletes, which allowed people from all over the world with disabilities to compete and enter their times online. The top five athletes in each division then moved on to the in-person event to compete over three days.

Horchar said the experience was unexpected, “The craziest part about this was it was a surprise.”

Out of the seven events at the games, he came in first in six events. But the accomplishment of standing on the podium almost didn’t happen as his body was so fatigued. Medics were actually standing by him.

“One of the guys tapped me on the shoulder, he’s like I don’t care if you need help, I’m getting you up on that stage,” Horchar recalled. “It was exhilarating, I could not describe it in any other words, just this dream I had years ago thinking it would not be possible it became a true living for a dream.”

Horchar’s extreme determination, positive attitude and perseverance make us proud to be from Pittsburgh.