(NOTE: This article was excerpted with permission from an article by Denise Parrish, senior media relations coordinator at Augustana University.)
Just who is the “ultimate guy” for 2016? Well, it could be Jedidiah Ballard, D.O.’10, according to Men’s Health magazine.
Ballard, an assistant professor of emergency medicine for the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) at Augusta University, is one of three finalists in the magazine’s annual nationwide Men’s Health Ultimate Guy Search.
“I couldn’t sleep one night and was reading Men’s Health when I saw the ad,” said Ballard, who was intrigued, because it wasn’t just a fitness contest. “They were also looking at charitable work and other accomplishments.”
On a whim, he entered the contest, along with about 800 other men. To his amazement, he made it through several elimination rounds, landing in the 100 quarterfinalists, the 10 semifinalists, and the final three.
Ballard’s fitness feats include being on the winning four-man team in the 11th annual Southeast MedWAR, a medical wilderness competition in which the participants race through 15 miles of woodlands as their emergency medical skills are put to the test. Part of the race required a team member to ride a mountain bike while the others ran, and another leg involved paddling a canoe and trudging knee-deep through a swamp.
Ballard’s next competition took him to Fort Benning, GA, for U.S. Army Ranger School, an intense 61-day leadership course, where soldiers crawl, walk and run in preparation for combat. So demanding was the training that only 31 of 386 candidates made it through without remediation. Ballard was among the elite finishers. He went to Fort Lewis, WA, to become the surgeon for the 2nd Ranger Battalion, a Special Operations Airborne Infantry unit and deployed to Afghanistan and Korea.
“Being an Army Ranger was really hard sometimes, but I gained life experience that I couldn’t have gotten elsewhere,” said Ballard, whose father served two tours in Vietnam. “Overall I feel very blessed I had the opportunity to serve my country in that manner.”
Along with eating a healthy diet, he works out six days a week. “I’m really balanced,” he said. “I generally work with weights two to three days, and the rest is a random mix of activities.”
In his current role at Augustana since fall 2015, Balland recently completed a fellowship in ultrasound. That led to pro bono teaching assignments in Canada, Peru and Panama. Over the years he’s also found time to dig ditches in Cambodia, help with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in Louisiana and volunteer with a burn camp for kids in Colorado.
“Just as fitness is an important part of my life, so is charity,” Ballard told Men’s Health editors in his contest entry, which is #697 on the magazine’s website.
The “Ultimate Guy” will be announced by Men’s Health editors this week on “The Today Show”; If Ballard is selected, he will be featured on the cover of the November issue and make an appearance on national TV. (He already has been featured on Augusta, GA, station WRDW 12.) He’s hoping to win but is content regardless.
“Honestly, I just enjoy life,” he said. “I legitimately like my job and the people I work with. I’m in a good spot.”