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Denver Police Sgt. Justin Dodge's remarkable recovery featured in new docuseries "Project Kaboom"

Denver Police Sgt. Justin Dodge's remarkable recovery featured in new docuseries
Denver Police Sgt. Justin Dodge's remarkable recovery featured in new docuseries 03:59

There are strength trainers, and then there's Steve Hess. The former Denver Nuggets performance coach is every bit as motivational and supportive as he is energetic and unique.

"I am like a 9-year-old kid and never want to go to bed. I want to suck the last drop out of the milkshake of life," Hess said. "I don't want to go to bed because I don't want to miss anything."

Steve Hess with Justin Dodge CBS

And Hess hasn't missed a moment with Denver Police Sgt. Justin Dodge since he volunteered to help the SWAT officer recover. Dodge was critically injured when he was pinned beneath a fire truck while working the Nuggets NBA Championship parade in June 2023.

"I even asked [Hess], 'Have you ever worked with an amputee?' And he's like, 'No, but we got this.' And I'm like, 'Okay, let's do this'," Dodge told CBS Colorado's Kelly Werthmann.

For nearly a year now, Dodge and Hess have worked side by side. They work to not only build Dodge's physical strength but his mental strength as well.

"I am preparing his body to be able to tolerate everything," explained Hess. "My goal for him -- make him bulletproof, in regard to motion… He's got to get up and be able to explode from a multitude of different directions while he's holding a gun."

From the moment Dodge was pinned beneath the 80,000-pound Denver Fire truck, he's been determined to get back to work with Denver SWAT. Dodge shared part of his recovery journey exclusively with CBS Colorado's Kelly Werthmann not long after he got his prosthetic leg.  And, with Hess's support, Dodge returned to duty just eight months after his catastrophic injury.

Justin Dodge with CBS Colorado's Kelly Werthmann CBS

"What is more important than the time is my ability to perform on the job," Dodge said. "My capability is far beyond what I thought… When I'm in the field and we're doing things, not one point do I think about my leg. There's never a, 'Hey, I'm on a prosthetic.' It's, 'I'm back,' and I credit that to Steve."

But if you ask Hess, the credit goes to Dodge's grit and determination.

"He is a vessel of resilience," Hess said. "Everything that has occurred in his life he chooses to grow from. It's uplifting in regard to the human spirit."

And that is precisely what is captured in Project Kaboom, an upcoming series on PBS12 that documents Dodge's rehab with Hess, and his eventual return to duty.

"It shows a lot of the struggles that I've had leading up to the point where I am now," Dodge said of the series. "Sharing my family, showing some of the different things from the work aspect."

While much of Project Kaboom features Hess's spirited approach to Dodge's recovery, the focus isn't fitness.

"This is a show to inspire every individual to look within themselves, 'How do I get better?'" said Hess. "We're just trying to create hope in every single person's life. We want to create the Kaboom in your life."

Steve Hess CBS

As for why it's called Project Kaboom…

"I get so excited that 'boom' does not equate to what I'm trying to relay to everyone, so I say 'kaboom' because it's the essence of what I'm feeling," Hess explained with a smile.

The 4-episode program is about the power of mindset, and Dodge's remarkable recovery that turned a tragic accident into an inspirational purpose.

"If I can help one single person, all of this was worth it," said Dodge.

Project Kaboom premiers Thursday, June 27 at 8 p.m. on PBS 12, and will continue each Thursday night through July. 

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