I'm Not Average: Brandon H.
Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (GPA)
Boone, North Carolina
Brandon went from competing for his collegiate track team to fighting for his life after being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune blood disease.
August 2015, Brandon ran a mile in under four minutes. You may be surprised to
know that just a few years before, Brandon was fighting for his life.
2007, Brandon was competing for his collegiate track team with a personal goal
of running a sub-4:00 minute mile and making the U.S. Olympic team. Then,
during his sophomore year, Brandon began to experience a series of health
problems – Bell’s Palsy and a deviated septum. His performance began to
suffer and soon he was diagnosed -- granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA), a
rare autoimmune blood disease.
impacts the body’s small blood vessels, and if left unchecked, can cause
cardiac arrest. While Brandon felt relieved to know the cause of his illness,
that relief would fade with the realization that running in the Olympics might
not be possible.
his diagnosis, Brandon went through chemo and drug therapies. When his
treatments had been completed, Brandon started back running and was eventually
able to compete at the collegiate level again. He helped win multiple
Southern Conference Championships and a few individual titles in track and
cross country events.
also renewed his goal to break the 4:00 mark, which is a feat that only 448
other Americans have accomplished. On August 7, 2015, his perseverance paid off
when he ran the mile in 3:59.67. In 2016, Brandon has run a USA top 20
mark at 1500m and qualified for the USA Track and Field Olympic Trials where he
was a semi-finalist.
The road hasn’t been easy – there
have been many setbacks and relapses along the way. But Brandon is tough and he
never gives up. Brandon has added an additional goal to his life, helping
others understand GPA and show that life accomplishments can continue.