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Unstoppable: How Paul Wilson Has Redefined Success While Navigating Society With Bunions

 

 

As a part of our “Unstoppable” series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Paul Wilson.

Paul Wilson is a 54-year-old real-estate agent based in Jacksonville, Florida. Outside of work, Paul is a dedicated father and avid runner with a strong commitment to philanthropy. Paul combined his passions to establish the Wolfson Children’s Challenge in 2009, an ultramarathon that has raised over $2.4 million for Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is really an honor. Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better.  Can you share your “backstory” with us? 

Running has always been a significant part of my life, but it took a meaningful turn when my son, Luke, was born with health complications that required an extended stay at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. After he recovered, my wife and I were able to bring home a happy, healthy baby. Luke’s stay and treatment at Wolfson Children’s Hospital ultimately inspired me to establish the Wolfson Children’s Challenge, an annual ultramarathon event where participants run 55 kilometers with a relay team or by themselves. Unfortunately, many years ago I developed bunions, which caused severe pain in my foot nearly every moment of the day and forced me to hang up my running shoes.

When I could no longer run and was forced to withdraw from the event that I was most passionate about because of bunion pain, I knew it was time to find a treatment option that would get me back in the race. One day, I was wearing sandals at my son’s soccer game when one of the other parents noticed my foot and told me about a procedure called Lapiplasty® 3D Bunion Correction®, an innovative surgical procedure that corrects bunions at their root cause1. I used the Lapiplasty®; website’s “Find a Doctor” tool and found that Dr. Hiram Carasquillo, a specialist who had treated me years before, was trained to perform the procedure. I paid Dr. Carasquillo a visit at the Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute and after being examined, was deemed a viable candidate for the Lapiplasty® Procedure. I had my left foot corrected in December 2019. Within two months of undergoing the Lapiplasty® Procedure, I was able to start wearing comfortable tennis shoes and around four months post-op, I was cleared for physical activities. Within nine months, I was able to start long-distance running again2. Now, I’m able to wear different types of running shoes that I couldn’t fit into before which has helped improve my performance, and I’m able to spend more time being active with my family.

Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story surrounding how you became disabled or became ill?  What mental shift did you make to not let that “stop you”?

I realized I had bunions a few years ago when my big toe started to turn inward quite a bit and even caused a hammertoe to develop on my second toe, but as a long-time Ironman triathlete and marathon runner, I tried to work my way through the pain3. When it got to a point where I couldn’t run anymore, I started to gain weight and feel sorry for myself. It was emotionally and physically draining. I was so embarrassed about how my feet looked that I even started burying them in the sand every time I went to the beach. I knew I couldn’t live like this forever, so that’s when I sought out a long-term solution.

Can you tell our readers about the accomplishments you have been able to make despite your disability or illness? 

After not participating in the Wolfson Children’s Challenge for the last five years because of the pain caused by my bunions, I was able to return to the competition in 2022 after recovering from my Lapiplasty® Procedure and run with a group. This year, I’m planning to complete the 55-kilometer race solo!

What advice would you give to other people who have disabilities or limitations?

Do some research and seek attention from a specialist to help find solutions. Nowadays, it’s so convenient to be able to search online to find out about treatment options and medical providers. I felt comfortable with my decision to get Lapiplasty® 3D Bunion Correction® because I was able to read about the Lapiplasty® Procedure and other patients’ experiences before I underwent the treatment myself.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

I’m grateful for my mom because she always pushes me. My family always gives positive reinforcement to help me get out of my comfort zone and do things that aren’t easy. My mom instilled in my sister and I the importance of trying new things. The first running event I ever did was a five-mile beach race and she did it with me. I take her advice with me every day, as a self-motivated real estate agent, runner and philanthropist.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Establishing the Wolfson Children’s Challenge has allowed me to help raise over $2.4 million dollars for the hospital that helped save my son’s life. I feel very lucky to be able to use my passion for running to support a greater cause that has a positive impact on the lives of many others.

Can you share “5 things I wish people understood or knew about people with physical limitations” and why.

  1. Even with a common condition like a bunion, just completing daily tasks like going grocery shopping were very hard. The simple act of walking around the store caused me severe pain.
  2. Bunion pain impacted my ability to be the type of father I wanted to be. Having children and wanting to go outside and run around with them was not an option when I was living with constant foot pain.
  3. When I saw other people running or jogging while I was sidelined because of my foot problem, it caused me to feel depressed and helpless.
  4. I wish that people understood that many times, people with physical limitations were once without those limitations and were able to do many of the things they cannot do now.
  5. I wish that people understood that people with physical limitations do not want to be in this situation and would do anything to change it.

Can you please give us your favorite ”Life Lesson Quote”?  

“If it is to be, it is up to me” – William Johnsen

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

I would love to meet Richard Branson. I find him very intriguing, and I think he’s an interesting entrepreneur. I think how he started Virgin Airlines was remarkable and I’d like to learn more about it.

To learn more about Lapiplasty® 3D Bunion Correction®, visit Lapiplasty.com.

Lapiplasty® is a surgical procedure. Only a surgeon can tell if the Lapiplasty® Procedure is right for you. This experience is unique and specific to this patient only. Individual results may vary depending on age, weight, health, and other variables. There are risks and recovery takes time. For more information about recovery from the Lapiplasty® Procedure, see the recovery information and discuss the post-surgery recovery process with your doctor. Risks include infection, pain, implant loosening and loss of correction with improper bone healing. For more information on benefits, risks and recovery, visit Lapiplasty.com.

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