Sitting in a hospital bed last June recovering from a gunshot wound, Nathan Luvice knew who he had to call.

Over a year earlier, Will Kiefer had visited Phoenix Academy, where Luvice was a student, to talk about his strength-training and mentoring program.

Luvice wasn't impressed.

“I didn't trust it,” Luvice, 19, said. “It was people that wanted to help kids out as a nonprofit. … What are you getting out of this?”

Prompted by a teacher, Luvice reluctantly checked out the Bench Mark Program and found it was a good place to lift weights. But after a few weeks he stopped showing up at the facility and fell back into bad habits, he said.

“I knew I had to go to this program and change my life.”

On June 2, 2016, Luvice graduated from J.P. McCaskey High School.

Ten days later, he was shot after an altercation in the first block of South Cornell Avenue in Manor Township.

“I need to talk to you,” Luvice recalled typing in a Facebook message to Kiefer as he recovered from his wound.

“I knew I had to go to this program and change my life,” Luvice said.


Weightlifting is a tool to help at-risk Lancaster teens at Bench Mark Program