NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Every police officer can easily share the story of why they joined the force.
In bodybuilding, the most impressive physique is symmetrical. A fitting sport for someone who has found her balance.
“A lot of my motivation comes from a lot of the struggles I’ve been through in my life. I feel like when I exercise, it’s a positive outlet. I feel a sense of release, a sense of peace when I come to the gym. It’s very therapeutic for me,” Julie Camacho told Overmyer.
Through intensive weight training, Camacho has remolded herself into a competitive bodybuilder. But that’s not her biggest transformation.
“I was born and raised in the Bronx. Actually when I was 2 years old… they found me and my sister riding the train alone,” she said.
Camacho was found in the subway by the NYPD. Little did she know, one day that uniform would be hers.
“We were put into the foster care system… we ended up homeless and living in shelters,” Camacho said.
She lived in a shelter that’s right next to the precinct she now works in.
“It’s crazy. I would never imagine myself working here. Not even when I was a child living here would I have thought that I would be in the police department and working right next door,” she said.
According to the latest data, there are nearly half a million children in foster care.
“I’ve been there when I was young, and I felt broken, and felt this was all my life was gonna be. You know?” Camacho said.
Foster children are two and a half times more likely to become incarcerated, Overmyer reported. Julie went the other way. Instead of being an at-risk youth, she joined the riskiest team in the NYPD: The Strategic Response Group.
“We’re well trained in going to any active shooters and protesters. We’re usually the first responders to that. So we’re well trained,” Camacho said. “We respond to all five boroughs, whether it be protest, demonstrations, riots, active shooters. They send us first.”
Overmyer asked her what wearing the NYPD badge means to her.
“I’m truly honored because everyone supports me here… Sometimes I’m human. I get exhausted. I want to give up. But I gotta constantly remind myself this is a goal I want to attain. And I wanna make sure I finish it. I don’t quit. At anything I do,” Camacho said.
With every rep, she completes a small goal. Success is achieved when you add up the small wins. It all culminates in this weekend’s national bodybuilding event.
“In a lot of ways, whether you win the competition or not is insignificant compared to the journey,” Overmyer said.
“It doesn’t matter whether I win or lose on that stage because I’ve won already for myself. Just being able to make it to that end point. Much more rewarding than any trophy could give me,” Camacho said.
Now she’s a living testament to those trying to pull themselves out of a bad situation.
“You just have to remind yourself you don’t have to be a product of circumstances. The circumstances you endure in your life doesn’t have to label you. Every day is a new day to create a new life for yourself,” Camacho said. “Just pushing forward and knowing there was going to be more to my life. And here I am! And I’m so grateful and I hope and pray I can do that for someone else’s life.”
Camacho will be competing in the Long Island championships this weekend.