Local man with paralyzing disorder about to fulfill dream of a lifetime

Idaho Falls

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IDAHO FALLS — An Idaho Falls man, who developed a rare disease 23 years ago, is preparing to finally complete a lifelong dream.

Rod Hutchins, 57, suffered the effects Guillain-Barre Syndrome. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there are many factors that contribute to the rare disorder, and there isn’t one direct source. The syndrome caused his immune system to attack his nervous system which resulted in muscle weakness and temporary paralysis from the neck down.

“I was going to Colorado and over night got very, very sick, and 30 days laters was in the intensive care unit,” Hutchins said.

After being diagnosed, Hutchins contracted an infection and doctors didn’t think he would survive. But the athlete was determined to overcome the challenges and live life to the fullest.

“I determined I would set some goals and I did that. One of those goals was to complete the Iron Man course in Kona, Hawaii in my own race at my own pace,” Hutchins told EastIdahoNews.com.

After recovering from the Guillain-Barre the first time it manifested, Hutchins would go on to deal with the illness two more times. He had to undergo 21 surgeries and procedures over just as many years.

Doctors eventually installed a spinal stimulator that helped Hutchins manage the pain from two deteriorated disks and a pinched sciatic nerve.

The stimulator will help Hutchins complete the Iron Man course and make his dream become a reality.

“I am now at the point where I am training to go to Kona Hawaii in April of 2018 and complete my own race on their course,” Hutchins said with a smile.

Hutchins is now making plans and training for the big event with a devoted support system he’s calling the Iron Dream Team.

“They’re the ones going with me to help make all of this happen,” Hutchins said. “It is quite a stretch to go from being totally paralyzed to…swimming 2.2 miles then getting out of the ocean and biking 112 (miles) then getting off my bike and running a full marathon in 26.2 miles. That team has become very instrumental and I’m excited to have them be part of my journey.”

Hutchins is hosting a kick-off event for the community featuring the Iron Dream Team and Coach Larry Gelwix, the man behind the movie Forever Strong. The event is free to the public and begins at 6 p.m. at Hillcrest High School on Sept. 23.