Brandon went from competing for his collegiate track team to fighting for his life after being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune blood disease.
- Condition: Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (GPA)
- Age: 29
- Location: Boone, North Carolina
In 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.
In 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.
GPA 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.
Following 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.
Brandon 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.