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Man overcomes disease,
adversity to climb mountain


By Alex Welch
Assistant Editor 

  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 decades.

Fulmer receives help from friends as he approaches the top of Stone Mountain.

Special photo

  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 made it.”

  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.



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