By Navin Singh
I was 18 years old when I contracted Guillain-Barre Syndrome and my life changed forever. I was a very healthy, athletic person and in a matter of days I was paralyzed from the neck down and totally dependent on others to live. Faced with an uncertain future, I decided to fight to turn things around rather than wallowing in my misery and asking, “Why me?”
I turned to an athletic mindset that was ingrained in me from martial arts and playing competitive sports from a young age. I worked hard training for sports to overcome these new obstacles. I did not listen to estimates of how long it would take to recover nor the negative thoughts from some that I would not have much improvement at all.
I was inspired by people who used their mental strength to overcome physical hurdles. After two years of extensive physical therapy I slowly regained most of my mobility, although I have remaining paralysis in both legs below my knees that require me to wear leg braces to walk.
Today I am 47 years old and the father of two wonderful girls, Annika, age 9, and Leela, age 5. I have learned many lessons on my journey after surviving Guillain-Barre Syndrome. The one that stands out is that we have a choice and that anything is possible if we choose to strive for it.
While I was going through physical rehabilitation, I felt a connection with Ironman athletes—people completing a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run. I watched the Ironman World Championship events and saw the human determination and will at work that defied conventional thinking of what was possible.
I want to show my girls—and the world—that anything is possible by training for and competing in an Ironman Triathlon this year. My training started in December of 2012 and I am now swimming, running and bicycling 14 hours a week.
Next month, I will be submitting a video about my story and entering the “Kona Inspired” contest for a chance to compete in the Ironman World Championships on October 12in Hawaii.
Once the program launches, the public will choose eight winners with the most inspirational stories to compete in Kona. I invite all of you to join me on this journey—watch for video blog updates on my training, starting with my Kona Inspired video in March.