Despite my medical limitations, I’m an Ironman. In 2003, in just a matter of days I weakened to the point where I could not walk. After four days in the hospital, I was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), a rare autoimmune disease.
It took months of rehabilitation before I returned to work as a tractor trailer driver for UPS in Dallas. During rehabilitation I asked my doctor if I could compete in an Ironman one day. He replied, “I don’t think that’s possible with the condition you have. I’ve never heard of a GBS patient doing a long endurance event such as an Ironman.” That was all I needed to hear – I was determined to prove him wrong.
I began training and at first I couldn’t swim 50 meters without getting winded. But I continued on, and with the support of my family and friends, I have completed five full Ironmans and eight 70.3 Ironmans including qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships.
Crossing the finish line of my first Ironman was overwhelming. Seeing thousands cheering me to the finish line was an incredible feeling. I knew then that I wanted to inspire others to get fit. If I can complete an Ironman with GBS, then anyone can get out and exercise. Start small – every little bit helps.
I keep pushing myself to do more. So this weekend on March 1-2, I will compete in a Double Ironman in Tampa, Florida. (4.8 mile swim, 224 mile bike, and 52.4 mile run).
I’m competing in honor of my mother and all Special Olympians. My incredible mother passed away last year. As a speech pathologist she worked with special needs kids. She taught me to accept people as they are, and to help those with disabilities. Through this I found the Special Olympics – they are the true champions and inspiring individuals in my life.
Ten years ago I didn’t know if I would ever walk again. Today, I compete for those who can’t and to inspire those who can.