Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

From a child sick with Guillain-Barre syndrome to high school graduate

BROOKSVILLE — As he waits patiently to receive his diploma tonight from Nature Coast Technical High School, Lance LeDoux will be listening, along with the other 300 members of his graduating class, to speakers as they offer thoughts about facing the future with hope, courage and perseverance.

LeDoux will simply nod and smile to himself. That's because he knows well of what they speak.

Not that long ago, the 17-year-old couldn't have said that. But the sudden onset of a serious illness — and a long subsequent recuperation at a young age — made him realize that he would ultimately be in charge of his destiny.

"I learned that nothing can hold you down if you don't let it," LeDoux said this week. "If God has a plan for you, then you need to follow it to the end."

Ten years ago, LeDoux was about as normal a second-grader as anyone could imagine. He excelled in his schoolwork and was active in soccer, baseball and competitive kickboxing.

Then, one day early in the school year, LeDoux woke up feeling awful. He couldn't seem to get his legs under him. He hopped out of bed only to fall to the floor. His parents, Mary and Lance LeDoux, took him to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, where he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare disorder that affects the peripheral nervous system.

For the next few months, LeDoux was unable to walk or even hold objects. For a time, he was blind in one eye.

"At times it felt like I was trapped in my body," LeDoux recalled. "I was angry because I had no control of anything."

Although he eventually was able to return to Spring Hill Elementary, where his mother was assistant principal, LeDoux's struggles worsened. At that point in a wheelchair, he was often tormented by bullies out of sight of authorities.

After 18 months of physical therapy, LeDoux regained enough of his strength to begin thinking about sports again. But by the time he enrolled in sixth grade, his weight had risen above 300 pounds, mostly because of steroids that doctors prescribed to battle the lingering effects of Guillain-Barré.

"I wanted to play football so bad," LeDoux said, "but I just wasn't in good enough shape yet."

During LeDoux's middle school years, former Nature Coast football coach Jamie Joyner worked with him to help him to trim down to an ideal playing weight. Two years later, LeDoux joined Nature Coast's junior varsity program, where excelled as an offensive lineman.

This school year, Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett nominated LeDoux for the national High School Rudy Award, which is given to athletes who demonstrate exemplary character, courage and commitment to their teams.

Next fall, LeDoux will enroll in business school at Bethel College in North Newton, Kan., on a partial football scholarship. He hopes one day to become a cruise ship captain.

Looking back at all he has endured, LeDoux is happy to be able to impart some lessons to others. He is a volunteer tutor for exceptional education students at Brooksville Elementary, where his mother is now the principal. He often comes across youngsters who are frustrated and ready to give up.

LeDoux tells them not to.

"A lot of times it's just a matter of getting them to believe in themselves," he said. "In the end, that's what life really comes down to."

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or

From a child sick with Guillain-Barre syndrome to high school graduate 05/31/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 31, 2012 8:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Accused cardinal denies Australia sex abuse allegations, takes leave of absence


    ROME — One of the most senior Vatican officials to be charged with sexual offenses denied on Thursday the allegations levied against him by Australian police, saying he would take a leave of absence as one of Pope Francis' chief advisers to defend himself.

    Cardinal George Pell meets the media at the Vatican on Thursday. The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney says Pell will return to Australia to fight sexual assault charges as soon as possible. [Associated Press]
  2. Tie vote blocks grant money for husband of Dade City mayor

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Taking another shot at obtaining a Community Redevelopment Agency grant to improve his downtown building, the husband of Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez was denied this week by a deadlocked board.

    Mayor Camille Hernandez recused herself but was asked to stay in the room.
  3. Lightning planning $6 million upgrade to practice facility


    Lightning owner Jeff Vinik will invest $6 million in upgrading the team's practice facility, the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon.

    The plan will create a brand new locker room and training facilities for the team, an 18,000 square foot addition.
  4. Deputies responding to car crash in Riverview find shooting victim inside


    RIVERVIEW — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is investigating after deputies responding to a single-car crash late Wednesday discovered someone in the car had been shot, authorities said.

  5. Commentary: Ten years later, the iPhone owns us


    Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone in January, 2007, before an adoring congregation, in his signature "Sermon on the Mount" style. On June 29, it became available to the public. Ten years later, the phone has spread like Christianity. The device represents "the pinnacle product of all capitalism," as Brian Merchant …

    Apple is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the iPhone's release on June 29, 2007. [Associated Press]