Originally published May 11, 2014

A businesswoman, a wife, a mother to four, and a sister to three, Marge Tate raised the man who created the elitefts empire.  Marge, now 79 years of age, recounts her story of an unexpected pregnancy that resulted in one of the proudest aspects of her life: the birth and life of her son Dave.

Born as a Preemie

Dave was born five weeks early and weighed only five pounds. Her blood work showed indicators that might make for a difficult pregnancy. “I found out I was RH- and O-negative — two new factors that were going to create more problems,” Marge said. For the first several weeks of Dave’s life, a registered nurse visited the Tates' home daily to ensure that he was eating and gaining the weight needed to survive.

marge-and-david-born-meet-marge-050514Marge and Dave.

As if being born prematurely wasn’t enough of a spark to start a fire in Dave’s life, several more challenges arose that struck like matches on his childhood: asthma, severe allergies, pneumonia, and the social stigma of having older parents each took a toll. These challenges brought on labeling and bullying that affected his life as if someone had doused a fire in kerosene.

“David had difficulty in school, not because he lacked the intelligence, but because he was made to feel like a loser by those who should’ve been praising him,” Marge said. Concerned by a call from Dave’s elementary school principal, Marge arranged a meeting. “[The principal] diagnosed him as having dyslexia,” she said. “In other words, he had a learning problem.” Although they listened to what the man had to say (and even hired a tutor to respond to the diagnosis), Dave and Marge both left the meeting feeling as if the principal had not been authentic.

“He was a real asshole,” Marge said. “He was someone who was more concerned with the prestige of his school than he was with the children.” This sentiment was confirmed one day when Dave’s third-grade teacher called Marge to discuss the young boy’s learning situation. “I want you to know something,” the teacher said. “David doesn’t have a problem, but he’s being treated like he does.”

Dave and his lunchbox.Dave and his lunchbox.

Marge continued to strongly advocate for Dave’s education and did more than most individuals in her situation would. She held more meetings, continued to fund tutoring, supporting Dave in any way that she could. Years later, while reading the first draft of Dave’s Under The Bar, Marge realized the magnitude of Dave’s emotional battles during these times. In the section she remembers, Dave describes his frustration with keeping a strict schedule that made it clear how different his life was from other kids his age:

 I remember having a huge picture of a clock on my desk, with the hour and minute hands pointing to the exact time I had to leave the classroom to see my tutor. I was the only one in the room that had this plastered on his desk. The only good part was that I got to leave and go to a very small, private room and work with flashcards. When I did a good job, I would get a really cool sticker to put on my shirt, and if I did a really good job, I would get candy as a reward. (Under The Bar, Page 66)

This was a staggering realization for Marge, who had previously not known how serious Dave’s struggles had been. “There’s David’s side, [coming from someone] who was living it, and [then there’s] my side,  [coming from someone] who was totally oblivious,” she said. “How could I be so dumb?

Growing Up — and Out

Although those early years of his life were difficult, Marge is certain they were formative for Dave’s future. “I look back at David and think, ‘That’s what made him,’” Marge said. “He wouldn’t be the person or father he is today [without them].”

Marge, Dave, and Skip.Marge, Dave, and Skip.

When Dave went to junior high, he entered a new world. It was a new school with more kids, concerned teachers, caring coaches, training partners, and sports. This changed everything. “We knew he was going to find himself because all of the negatives were gone,” Marge said. “That’s when he started his lifting.” The teachers and coaches that Dave met during this time of his life showed genuine care far beyond what he had experienced at a young age, Marge claims.

She watched her son transform into a “big, muscular jock” and become surrounded by individuals who acted as if they truly cared for him. “I think they were the ones that looked beyond the sport [and] the winning, [and saw] what it did and how it developed boys into men, “ Marge said.

Inherited Values

The more Dave grew, the more Marge saw a resemblance to her own father. It was more than the blue eyes and the build that reminded Marge of the man that raised her; it was also Dave’s ability to communicate.

“So many things about Dave remind me of my father — a big man with a gentle heart,” Marge said. Dave also inherited a sense of business operations and personal relationship development from his parents and grandparents. The appliance store his family owned instilled values in Dave that he carries to this day.

Dave strikes a bodybuilding pose.

Through family tradition, dinner conversations, formal education, and personal experience (after Dave had already spent his time as a busboy, a delivery boy, a bouncer, a college student, and a personal trainer), Marge initially questioned what Dave would do with the conglomeration of knowledge he had acquired. It wasn’t long, however, before Marge saw where the passion led.

“Once he and Traci started with elitefts and the seminars, I knew things would fall into place,” Marge said. “He was making the contacts and building relationships. He surpassed any expectations we ever dreamed [he would].”

As Marge and her husband raised their children, they often reminded Dave and his siblings that every action a person makes affects his or her life.

“[We used to tell them], ‘people all over town know who you are, whether you know them or not, so you better stay straight,’” Marge said. What Dave learned from this is that how you treat the people you interact with will determine whether or not your company is going to stay in business. Just as the human connection was important for Dave’s parents’ appliance store to thrive, Marge realizes that the human connection is what sets elitefts.com apart from any other online business:

“Online is where everything is, but the person running it is where you’re going to go. What separates elitefts.com from other websites is its personal touch. [Dave] is not just a basket waiting to be filled; he is a real human being among quality products.”

Marge displays her pride in her family members and their accomplishments. Her eyes light up when she speaks of her grandchildren; she laughs when thinking about the year she witnessed Dave pose-down half naked on stage; she smiles when she thinks of her friends and their yearly reunions, and she tears up when she thinks about the man she married.

Bryce and Blaine Tate (Dave's children)Bryce and Blaine Tate. (Dave's children)

Marge could have allowed labels, sickness, and loss to paralyze her legacy. Instead, through passion, tradition, and communication, her commitment to human connection and service is alive — and she passed it on to Dave.

Happy Mother's Day!