Hopes and Hoops

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34-year-old Richie Caudill is just like everyone else at Fusion Fitness Center in Lynn Haven. He works out, he shoots hoops. He breaks a sweat. Richie is just like everyone else except he's really different.

"I was the third person to ever have it, my temperature was 111, slipped into a coma, and they told my parents that I had no opportunity to survive," said Caudill.

At just four-years-old, Richie was a victim of meningococcemia, an extremely rare form of meningitis that attacks the bloodstream.

At Sacred Heart Pensacola, the disease left a four year old boy a quadruple amputee, but a survivor was born.

"All together I went through like 15, 16 surgeries,” said Caudill, "all by the age of 4."

And Richie's mounting medical problems were far from over.

At 11, the meningitis struck again.

Richie suffered from the disease's side effects, severe seizures, as many as five everyday, for 17-years.

Brain surgery came next.

At 29-years-old, the kid who wouldn't quit finally began living a functioning lifestyle.

"People always said I had a disability. I never believed in that word."

That was the attitude that pushed Richie to develop his amazing talent with a basketball and his shots go in a lot!

Russ Kinslow's camera was rolling as Richie hit an astonishing seven 3 pointers in a row!

"We kind of bonded over the fact that we play basketball. We got an idea, stick a camera in the gym and see what we could catch. Most of the time when we'd do it, he'd hit 15 out of 17, 18 our of 20," said Kinslow.

With his basketball talents anointing him, the hero of Fusion Fitness, Richie now wants to fall into motivational speaking.

His goal is to inspire the world.

Maybe even become an entertainer because what basketball fan wouldn't love this act and Richie has a message.

"Don't ever give up, I mean when people tell you you can't do something you just gotta believe that you can. I accomplished everything I told myself I was gonna accomplish. You can do anything in life you just gotta believe in one thing and that's yourself."


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