NEVER STOP GRINDING
A Discussion With Daniel Rodriguez, Co-Founder and Chief Brand Evangelist of Hemp Hydrate.
Daniel Rodriguez is nothing if not a survivor. Better yet, he’s a living, breathing reminder that what doesn’t kill you, might leave its scars, but also make you stronger.
A native of Stafford County, Virginia and star football player at Brooke Point High, life changed from one instant to another when his father unexpectedly passed away.
Five days later, at the age of 18, Rodriguez joined the US Army infantry, serving multiple tours in Iraq and later, at Combat Outpost Keating, a remote installation in eastern Afghanistan manned by a small group of fifty-three Allied forces.
There, in what seemed the middle of nowhere, Rodriguez spent his days doing push-ups and pull-ups, fighting off small daily skirmishes, and forming the kind of unbreakable bonds with his brothers-in-arms that only come from trusting someone with your life.
Rodriguez spent the next several hours shooting everything he could at the insurgents, intermittently attempting to drag his friend to safety, and was, consequently, hit with RPG shrapnel in his neck, shoulder, and leg.
Thompson would be one of the eight U.S. soldiers killed during the “Battle of Kamdesh,” a fire fight that lasted nearly 18 hours, now recognized as one of the bloodiest exchanges of “Operation Enduring Freedom.”
Rodriguez would receive medical attention and finished the last 6 months of his tour in Afghanistan, before being honorably discharged and receiving a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star of Valor for his actions that day.
He returned home listless and guilt-ridden, working through the emotional scars commonly associated with post-traumatic stress. But he couldn’t shake the memory of a challenge his friend Thompson had given him weeks before his untimely death: for Rodriguez to follow his passion and play college football.
So Rodriguez, despite his 6-year absence from football, dedicated himself to training furiously, putting in the hard work required to get into the physical and mental shape necessary to compete at the college level.
After investing what little money he had into producing and distributing a video of his high intensity work-outs, news of his pursuit began to attract attention from several football programs. Against all odds, Rodriguez walked-on to the Clemson University football program, where he earned a position as a three-year starter at wide receiver.
Afterwards, he signed with the St Louis Rams as a free agent, only to suffer a severe concussion during a preseason game. It was a big hit, and another wake up call.
The 32-year-old, already an honored veteran of battles in the field of war and on the field of play, decided to leave professional football, eventually focusing his efforts on helping those suffering from post traumatic stress (PTSD) and the symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated head injuries.
Unenthused by the pharmaceutical treatments available to veterans and athletes in need, Rodriguez found his way to the medicinal marijuana and CBD space. After serendipitously meeting Dean Guise (founder of Hemp Hydrate) at a Coachella after-party, the two partnered together and began working tirelessly to create natural products infused with hemp extract that are appealing and affordable.
Here, we talk to Rodriguez, officially the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Evangelist of Hemp Hydrate, on how he decided to fight on behalf of hemp’s potential.
How would you say your military experience shaped your interest in health & wellness?
Throughout high school and into the military, I always maintained fitness as a priority. In the military, you learn what it feels like to be food deprived! But also, it teaches you accountability, and discipline. It gave me the confidence to later spread my wings, and really work hard for my goals.
What kind of impact do you hope Hemp Hydrate to have?
I feel really confident that we’re creating products that people can understand and believe in. I want Hemp Hydrate to be considered a leader in the hemp and CBD space, and for it to really serve as many people that need it. We’re not in it for the quick dollar, we plan on sticking around and continuing to advocate for holistic approaches to personal wellness and performance.
How would you characterize the Hemp Hydrate culture?
It begins with, “Tell us what helps you,” that’s always been the approach. There should be no shame in wanting something that helps you deal with whatever you’re going through. This company, Hemp Hydrate, believes in you. We believe that we are providing an alternative path to a healthier lifestyle.
How do you see Hemp Hydrate evolving?
Besides product expansion and stuff like that, I think there is a lot that can be done on the philanthropic side that we’re excited to eventually tap into. I think the skies are the limit, and that we can put ourselves in a position where we’re a household name, and our products are helping as many as people as possible.
I want to see that mission all the way through and I want to make Hemp Hydrate as amazing as it can be because I truly believe in it. I didn’t go through all the shit that I’ve gone through to not take a stand. I have to get behind something that I think is revolutionary.