Aug 13, 2020
Dablan Husein's gym hosts various community charity drives, including collecting over 100 boxes of crayons and assorted coloring supplies to assist the Fresno State mass communication and journalism department's donation to Valley Children's Hospital. (Cassie Richter/The Collegian)

Fowler gym is strengthening a community as well as muscles

When someone thinks of a hero, it is typically a masked man like Batman or Spider-Man. But little does the city of Fowler know, it has a hero in its own backyard.

Gym owner and trainer, chef, pastor, instructor and inspiration to those who cross his path, meet Dablan Husein.

Husein is the oldest of nine siblings. He grew up in poverty, though he never felt poor. He has had to work hard for all he has accomplished and is proud of it.

His wife Elena owns and operates a salon called Elena’s Suite Salon in the front of the gym. He is also a father of two boys, Gavin, 21, attends school in San Francisco, and Troy, 12, a sixth-grader.

Husein strives to make the world a better place. He has been involved recently in a number of charitable projects, including one at Fresno State.

His passion to help people started with training the members of the gym he attended. Husein had found himself overweight at 40 years old, so he began going to the gym to train.

As he started to see results, so did the other people in the gym, and they began to ask him to train them as well. He did just that.

Husein began to see other needs in his community and decided to do something about it. In 2016, he started a fundraiser called Backpacks for Biceps, in which he collected backpacks and school supplies for any child who needed it. The goal was to acquire and fill 25-50 backpacks. However, Husein amassed and handed out 170 backpacks that first year.

He then held a turkey-dinner drive, raising 15 turkey dinners for 15 families for Thanksgiving. He followed this drive with a coat drive called Warm Hearts. Husein collected coats for anyone who needed one.

“People brought bags and bags of coats [for donation.] We had hundreds of them,” said Husein.

Someone was asking for poncho donations for the homeless on a Facebook post, “…so, I filled up my trunk with coats and handed them out on Christmas Eve,” he said.

In October 2016, he bought an old bar, restored it and became the owner of a gym called Stay Strong in Fowler.

In November 2017, Husein helped collect boxes of crayons to help the MCJ 106 publication design students at Fresno State. The goal of the MCJ 106 class was to collect 100 boxes of crayons to pair with the coloring books it created and donated to patients at Valley Children’s Hospital.

Husein’s donation helped the MCJ department surpass its goal when he collected more than 100 boxes of crayons at his gym.

Husein routinely holds food drives at his gym, collecting food and distributing it to those who need it. He plans on doing Backpacks for Biceps annually and recently held a backpack drive for child abuse victims. The Fresno Police Department helped him deliver 75 filled backpacks.

Husein said his gym is a safe place he uses not only to physically train people but to counsel them and to talk about God as well. Husein has recently become a truck driving instructor and is helping many of his students learn English. He seems to be a jack-of-all-trades and has no plans of slowing down.

Husein said he does these kinds of things because it is in his heart.

“If I see a need for something, I’m going to do what I can to make a difference,” Husein said.

There are two things he said he hopes other people will live by: “just go for it” and “be authentic to people.”

Husein gives all the glory to his pastor, Dale Davis of the Family Fellowship Church in Selma.

“I owe everything to my pastor,” he said. Davis is his mentor, and Davis is the Batman to his Joker, he explained. When asked if he had anything else he wanted to add, he said, “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

People may ask themselves, “How can I make a difference? I’m only one person.” But Husein has made a difference in this world to the kids who needed school supplies, to the families who wouldn’t have had a Thanksgiving dinner, to the cold homeless people who needed a coat, to the kids who received those boxes of crayons and to everyone who meets him.

So, if you need some inspiration this holiday season, visit Husein at Stay Strong and get to know a real-life superhero.

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