By Alex Welch
Hiking up Stone Mountain is a
strenuous undertaking that can be difficult for anyone to perform.
For one Henry County resident, though, this climb was even more
adverse due to complications from a disease he has suffered from for
Fulmer receives help from
friends as he approaches the top of Stone Mountain.
Rod Fulmer, a 56-year-old
from McDonough, made it to the top of the mountain on Saturday,
June 8, despite suffering from facioscapulohumeral muscular
dystrophy (FSHD), a genetic disorder that leads to muscle
degeneration. Fulmer developed “foot drop” as a result of the
disease, which led to paralysis. Without the help of family,
friends and a new team Fulmer recently joined, climbing Stone
Mountain might have been out of the question.
In April, Fulmer became a
part of Allard USA’s TeamUp, a group of people with various diseases
that have overcome foot drop. Technologically advanced, carbon fiber
orthotic braces made by Allard USA assist Fulmer in walking, and
aided him in reaching new heights.
“It was just something I
never dreamed I would do in my life,” said Fulmer. “I had a lot of
help.” Fulmer said a group of people close to him came to Stone
Mountain on June 8 to make the trek with him. “I had about 40 people
from my church, Fellowship Primitive Baptist, the community and
family and friends,” he said.
Fulmer wanted to make the
hike with his daughter, Savannah. “The company (Al-lard USA) thought
it’d be great,” he said. Showing it is still possible to accomplish
huge feats with muscular dystrophy, Fulmer reached the top of Stone
Mountain in “about an hour and a half.” He said his braces were a
huge help. “There were several big rocks. I had to have help just
get the leverage to get up there,” said Fulmer. “The braces make you
a little bit stiff, but without them, I don’t think I would have
The Summit Skyride at Stone
Mountain was broken the day Fulmer climbed to the top, so a friend
called the park police to pick him up and take him back to the
bottom. “It was very tiring. I sort of felt like I maybe could walk
down, but they were afraid of the steepness,” said Fulmer.
After the hike was complete,
his 11-year-old daughter was exhausted as well. “She said she was
never doing it again because it was so hard,” said Fulmer, laughing.
Fulmer said it was a good experience, and he
inspired other people around him. He said one member of his church
who had a brain tumor walked up with him. Both men considered each
other as inspirations for making the climb. Fulmer’s father and
grandfather both suffered from muscular dystrophy, so he considers
them as part of his inspiration as well.