Doug Schulte, better known in Milford simply as “Baby Douglas” is all grown up.
The little boy, diagnosed in 1997 prior to his first birthday with Long Chain 3-Hydroxyacl Coa Dehydrogenase Deficiency (LCHAD), a fatty acid oxidation disorder, is now a high school senior. The terribly sick boy Milford rallied around many years ago is now a strapping 18 year-old wrestler for one of the most successful programs in Utah, Viewmont High School.
“I don’t remember the things people did for me in Connecticut but my parents and others have kept me informed about the kindness that was shown to our family when I was so sick,” Doug Schulte said. “I am so thankful to all of those people who helped my family and me.”
Douglas was born six weeks early and by six months into life began showing signs of poor health. He was not growing, suffering bouts of seizures, diarrhea, vomiting and lethargy. It took doctors at Yale several months to diagnose the very rare disorder, classified as one of the 6,000-plus orphan Illnesses. These conditions are so rare very little attention is paid to them and has virtually no funding for research. This is something Douglas has taken public as much as possible.
“I’ve had some chances to talk to the media as I have gotten older,” Douglas said. “I try to use that time to get the word out about these orphan Illnesses.”
Douglas also has a special message for kids like him.
“My mother and father made a decision early in my life that they were going to allow me to do what I wanted to do,” Douglas said. “They had been told by doctors that I should not play sports, especially more intense sports that would tax my body of energy, but my parents and my brother, Taylor, have always encouraged me to do what I wanted to do.”
Douglas started playing baseball in third grade and then moved onto football in fourth grade and then wrestling in fifth grade. Baseball ended when youth ball passed as he entered junior high. As a junior in high school the intense collision of football forced Douglas to set that aside, but wrestling has remained a major part of his life.
“Wrestling is very intense,” Douglas said. “Our team is very good and has been over the years, so we wrestle in some great competitions and go to some great tournaments,” Douglas said. “Wrestling is a blast and I love it.”
Viewmont has won seven state 5A Utah state titles and finished second twice (including last year) over the last 10 years. In addition, Douglas trains with some of the best wrestling minds in the country including Penn State coach Cael Sanderson and the staff at University of Iowa. His club coach Ben Kjar was a third place finish at the 2012 US Olympic Trials and NCAA All-American at Utah Valley University.
“Doug is one of the hardest workers and a great leader,” Kjar said. “He doesn’t use his condition as an excuse. In fact, we wouldn’t know he has anything wrong except that his parents had to let us know to be safe.”
Douglas has suffered a few episodes of metabolic distress during wrestling season, but overall, with his diet and determination, he has stayed on top of his sport and his health.
Douglas’ story of beating the odds caught the attention of Bronco Mendenhall, head coach of the Brigham Young University football team. Mendenhall selects one person each week during the season as a “Thursday Hero.” The program was created as a way for the BYU football team to honor those who offer inspirational stories for the team.
“That was way exciting,” Douglas said. “My dad and I are huge BYU fans and so to be there meeting the players and the coaches and to get the tour of the facilities was great.”
Douglas is currently ranked fourth in the 5A Utah state with the state tournament in February. He plans to serve his Mormon Mission this June after graduation. That is a time when young Mormons leave home for a time to share the message of their church.
“Nothing is more important to me than serving my mission,” Douglas said. “It’s a time when I can serve all of the people who did service for our family when I was sick.”