From Hospital Room to Football Field: The Amazing Story of One Guillain-Barre Survivor

Inspiration comes from many different places, but the best inspiration usually comes from seeing someone achieve greatness in the face of obstacles.

That is exactly what a Navy midshipman by the name of Chris Ferguson demonstrated his freshman year in Annapolis. You’d never guess that, when Chris was eight, he nearly perished before he was finally diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Before his first college football game, the entire team (players, managers, coaches) got together in a hotel ballroom to share with each other why they do what they do. Chris was not the first to share his story. Many talked about patriotism or family obligation. Some described a love of the game.

Chris shared a different kind of story, the kind that he had not wanted anyone to know about, at first.

Chris’s story covered the tumultuous events that occurred after he awoke one day unable to stand. Numerous hospital visits and a chilling loss of weight preceded the day when doctors told his parents to start making plans for Chris’s funeral. He could not walk or write his name. He had difficulty speaking at all.

Eventually, a New York-based doctor, who traveled to North Carolina especially to see Chris, diagnosed him. With his Guillain-Barre syndrome properly diagnosed, Chris was given treatment. Soon, he started showing signs of turning the corner toward recovery.

Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare condition where a person’s immune system starts to attack the nervous system. Only one person in 100,000 has this condition. It can attack either gender at any age. Because of its rarity, Guillain-Barre syndrome can be difficult to recognize and diagnose. Chris was fortunate to have a doctor who knew of the condition.

Before Chris was released from the hospital, his parents were warned that his physical and mental disabilities may take years to fully return. Either that, or they might never return at all.

Chris’s second-grade teacher came to the Ferguson household to tutor him twice weekly so that he wouldn’t fall behind in school. He spent months slowly learning how to walk again.

In just a few years, not only had Chris made a full recovery, his condition matured him to a point that was notable to the adults in his life. His parents and teachers commented on his dedication and persistence. He was playing basketball by the end of elementary school and set his sights on playing quarterback in middle school.

His tenacity on the field got him noticed by major football programs in his home state. However, he felt pulled toward the Naval Academy in Annapolis, because of the hard work the students demonstrate.

By the time Chris finished telling his teammates and coaches why he played, many were in tears. He would go on to have a stellar freshman season.

From near death to a starting spot on a college football team, that’s the stuff Hollywood movies are made of.

Read more about Chris Ferguson’s remarkable story by clicking here.

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