Make no mistake about it. James “Kimo” Cuizon is an elite athlete.
He has conquered the climb up Haleakala on his bike, covered the 26.2 miles that make up the Boston Marathon, and competed in the most grueling of all long distance races — the Ironman World Championship in Kona.
And he did it all with a debilitating disease known as CMT or Charcot-Marie Tooth. The disease will ultimately leave him unable to walk.
“One day one of this is all going to be over,” Cuizon said. “The condition that I have called CMT is a progressive disease and one day I’m not going to be able to swim bike and run it really motivates me to get out there and do what I can while I can.”
If James seems completely at ease with his situation, it’s because he is. “You just take it all in stride. We are all dealt our set of cards in life and you do what you can with those cards. In my case it’s not being able to swim or bike or run one day so I’m going to do it now and when that time comes I’m going to move on and go to the next level.”
Although the diagnosis of CMT can come at any age, James first noticed something different at the age of 20.
“Initially it was pretty tough,” he said. “I was in the Air Force ROTC program and being that I was disabled I did not qualify for the program anymore and I was dismissed from the program. But everything else you take it in stride and you do what you can with the situation that’s given to you.”
And for James that meant doing more than most people would ever dream of. “Most recently I ran Boston (Marathon). In 2015, I ran my fastest marathon ever.”
And then there was the ride to the sun — a grueling 10,000 foot climb to the top of Haleakala on Maui.
“When I finally saw that 10,000 foot sign I just had the biggest smile on my face I know that when I got to the top, all that pain all that suffering coming up the hill just went away. it went away,” he said.
Looking ahead, James says there’s no timeline. All he knows is the inevitable will happen. But until then, he says, bring it on.
“As far as being nervous about it, or scared or scared about what the future holds,” he said. “I’m ready for it. Done enough in the last 20 years with the condition repair myself to take the next up into graciously move on.”