Veteran puts illness behind, wins championships

Aims for hand cycle event in Tokyo
While battling a rare illness, a veteran competes in hand cycling
Published: Nov. 6, 2020 at 1:39 PM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - One Florida man was dealt a bad hand to say the least.

But instead of letting it tear him down, he got active -- and even created a new career out of it.

David Randall was completely healthy, serving in the military, but he says two years into his service something was off.

“Little bit of back pain, didn’t think too much about it and then I noticed I’d be playing basketball or running and my legs would kind of give out at times,” said Randall.

Then came bowel and bladder issues. He flew to Germany for an MRI.

“I just remember the doctor coming in and telling me I had tumors all over my brain and spinal cord.”

He found out he has VHL disease, a super rare condition that causes tumors and cysts to grow in your body. His dad had it and so does his brother.

“He has kids, i don’t have any kids,” said Randall. “I didn’t wanna take a chance. It’s a 50-percent chance a kid would inherit the gene.”

Randall’s had four spinal cord and five brain surgeries over the last two decades. A 2001 procedure left him paralyzed from the waist down.

“You know you lose that independence. I used to golf. I couldn’t do that anymore.”

But he found a new passion.

“(In) 2004, (I) bought a hand cycle, just to kind of stay in shape, and then i actually entered my first race in the Detroit Marathon like 2005. I was hooked,” said Randall.

He’s been to five world championships and won a world title in 2018. Not to mention 12 national titles too. But he’s nowhere near finished.

“It’s my job so, I love it. I’ve traveled all over the world for it and I’m hoping to make Tokyo this summer.”

And as for his health, Randall says he’s taking it one day, one race at a time.

“If I’m feeling good, I’m thankful for that day and tomorrow, we’ll see what happens tomorrow. But yeah, it’s a lifelong thing,” he said.

Randall has a Go-Fund-Me site for people to support his journey to Tokyo.

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