The power of will, tenacity and spirit can often overcome any physical obstacle. If you have any doubt that it does, then it’s time to meet Evans Wilson. The former competitive runner, who has a terminal lung disease, beat his own personal best when he completed the Seattle Marathon on November 27 in only 10 hours and 55 minutes.
Wilson said he initially expected to finish the race in about 14 hours. Before he became ill, the avid athlete was able to run a mile in under 5 minutes. But Wilson now suffers from pulmonary fibrosis (PF) and pulmonary hypertension.
Feeling good 15th Pl. some of the fastest runners in the world still behind us pic.twitter.com/GsBRp6mfSP
— Evans Wilson (@EvansWilson11) November 27, 2016
According to the American Lung Association, when someone is afflicted with pulmonary fibrosis, the tissue that is located deep in the lungs becomes thick, stiff and scarred. The scarring is called fibrosis, and the scarred lung tissue makes it difficult to breathe. The Mayo Clinic defines pulmonary hypertension as a type of high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs. It can include the narrowing, blocking or destruction of your lung arteries and capillaries and affect the lungs’ ability to fully process oxygen. Both diseases are progressive and irreversible. And because of this, Wilson did not have his doctor’s blessing to participate in the race.
“It’s not good for my heart to do marathon like work,” Wilson told KomoNews.com. “My doctors have cleared me but they’re not thrilled about it.”
Wilson started the race at 6am Sunday morning, and with the aid of his oxygen tank (and his wife, who carried a spare tank), he walked the 26.2 miles. Wilson’s goal in walking the race was to raise funds for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation.
The median survival rate for Pulmonary Fibrosis and Pulmonary Hypertension is only 3 years. But just like he beat the odds of finishing the time of his own race — his very first marathon — he’s also well ahead in the game of life. Wilson has been living with both diseases for nearly five years.
Ronke Idowu Reeves is a writer and journalist who hails from Brooklyn, NY. Her news and entertainment stories have appeared on WABC-TV-New York, Fox News Channel, VH1, BET.com plus in Sundance Film Festival’s Sundance Daily Insider and People Magazine.