Wrestlers pitch in to aid Beatty family

BY J.T. BUGOS | JULY 09, 2009 7:21 AM

This summer, the wrestlers at Iowa have banded together to fight for something bigger than anything they could do on the mat — the ability to walk.

Paul Beatty, the father of Iowa’s Chad Beatty, got injured in 2002 lending a hand to family friends. While cutting down a tree, he fell 15 feet to the ground. His tailbone took the impact, severing his spinal cord and rupturing three vertebrae. Since then, the elder Beatty has been confined to a wheelchair.

Seven years later, Paul Beatty is aspiring to walk again.

Chad Beatty knows reclaiming the ability to walk will be no easy task. Being a wrestler at a collegiate level, the senior-to-be knows about being tough. He described his dad as one tough son of a gun.

“He’s been motivated this whole time that he’s going to be able to walk,” he said. “And finally, we got the opportunity.”

That opportunity is surgery in Cologne, Germany. The surgery is invasive and will take place at the XCell-Center at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Live stem cells will be taken from Paul Beatty’s hip and placed directly into the location where the spinal cord was severed. The stem cells take a while to culture, so the whole process should take approximately one week.

The best-case scenario is that he leaves the wheelchair behind.

“That’s the most exciting thing about this,” Chad Beatty said. “He realistically could walk again.”

Previous surgeries performed at XCell-Center have given the family good reason to be optimistic. Paul Beatty has spoken with patients who regained their ability to walk and their ability to feel urges, such as using the bathroom and tingling sensations.

Chad Beatty’s Hawkeye teammates and coaches have been avid supporters in the cause. Iowa head coach Tom Brands said it was a no-brainer for them to get involved, and he can’t help but compare Paul Beatty’s fight to wrestling.

“Wrestling is a struggle, and it’s about persevering,” Brands said. “Paul is fighting for what he believes in, and that’s what wrestlers do best.”

Brands also expressed admiration about his will to walk.

“People don’t realize what Paul goes through every day to make himself better,” Brands said. “He doesn’t just sit there and take it. He’s doing something about his handicap.”

Teammates showcased their support by running a camp in Strawberry Point, Iowa, for two days. Paul Beatty was almost in tears when he learned that 15 Hawkeyes would make the two-hour trek to help in the fundraising efforts.

“Typically, these guys can make a lot of money doing wrestling camps,” Chad Beatty said. “And for them to donate their time and not get a penny out of it, it was phenomenal.”

All of the proceeds from that camp went to fund the trip to Germany. Throughout the course of the summer, more events will be held to raise money for the surgery.

On July 31, a silent auction will take place in Coralville at the Holiday Inn. Anyone is welcome to participate and donate articles to the auction. A diverse range of items will be auctioned off, from wrestling memorabilia to quilts.

On Aug. 15, a 5K run/walk will be held in Tipton. The event will include a hog roast and many games and activities throughout the day. Hotel rooms will be available to those who want to participate.

The Beattys’ goal is to raise approximately $30,000, and Chad Beatty estimates that more than $10,000 has already been raised. It is their hope with continued support from the Hawkeye community that Paul Beatty can make the trip to Germany before the start of fall semester.

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