Cary was “crazy in the best possible way,” according to his girlfriend, Ameena. He pushed personal limits, tried new things, was ambitious, motivated, incredibly talented, and humble. “He put 200% of himself into everything he did,” she said. Inspired by the statues of Greek gods during a childhood trip to Greece, he successfully transformed his average 160lb body to 200lbs of pure muscle and fitness and became a certified personal trainer, champion bodybuilder, and all around “athletic beast.” Cary completed the Marine Corps Half Marathon and set his sights on preparing to become a Navy SEAL. He traveled an hour to Annapolis at 5 am each morning to train with a former SEAL and a special ops instructor.
Being a Navy SEAL, rock star and celebrity personal trainer were all future goals, but first Cary was pursuing his lifelong love of music. He played guitar, piano, and drums for hours, making it look effortless. He earned a full-ride scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. Though he had three very different careers in mind, Cary had the talent, ability, and drive to do any or all of them. He was motivated to live life to the fullest, an attitude that was infectious and inspired so many people. He regularly sent encouraging messages to those who followed his fitness page, and they cited how his “never quit” attitude motivated them and changed their lives.
Cary and his family vacationed each year at Sandbridge Beach, VA where he often went go-karting or enjoyed time playing Mario Kart with his friends and brother Alex, while his mom made dinner nearby. Ameena remembers one of her visits to the beach with Cary and the ridiculous workouts they did there together. They also made a spontaneous trip to NYC to be in Times Square for New Year’s Eve, freezing in zero-degree weather. When Ameena was away at school, their 24/7 texts, calls, and FaceTime helped to bridge their time apart.
Over time, Cary’s relationships with his loved ones came in second to his need for drugs, and he became less optimistic about his future. Though his commitment to fitness helped him to manage his depression and anxiety to an extent, it wasn’t enough to keep him completely insulated from it. Ameena said: “It was hard to watch the slow mental, emotional, and even physical decline. Everyone who loved him was trying to help as much as Cary tried to help himself, but it wasn’t enough.” She knows that Cary would have wanted her to speak out about substance use disorder to prevent others from falling victim to it.
Ameena misses his big blue eyes, his soft curly hair, watching movies together, laughing, and even arguing. She also misses walking about in public with him, feeling so proud that she was dating such a great guy.
She is starting a Master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling and wants to become a licensed addictions counselor to help people like Cary to manage their substance use disorder. “Putting his (and my) story out there makes others feel more comfortable sharing theirs, which is a good way to overcome the stigma around this disease,” she said.
Cary’s girlfriend, Amenna Benselloum, provided the information for this narrative.
April 26, 1997-April 16, 2019
Age 21-Lived with the disease of addiction 3 years.