Realizing the Dream with Demitrius Omphroy on the Patient Activation Network

PAN37: Realizing the Dream with Demitrius Omphroy

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“It was such a cool experience to be drafted by a team and have that dream back in my life,” reflected Demitrius Omphroy on the moment his name was called during the MLS soccer draft. At that moment, Demitrius became the first person living with MS to become a major league soccer player. Demitrius shares his diagnosis story and how he persevered relapse after relapse to realize his childhood dream. He shares his emotions of that moment he stepped on the field for his first MLS game.

 

About Demitrius Omphroy

Demitrius Omphroy dreamed about being a professional soccer player. At 17 years old, he had a chance to play internationally when he started having problems with his vision. His symptoms puzzled Portuguese Doctors, who told Demitrius that he may go blind. Discouraged, he flew back home to California where doctors diagnosed him with optic neuritis, a swelling of the optic nerve, causing blurry vision in his affected eye. His pending contract was terminated, but his dream was not to be deterred. 

Demitrius accepted a scholarship to play soccer at University of California, Berkeley. He would go on to earn two Conference championships and a National Title run to the Elite 8 during his fourth and final year. Right before that final season, Demitrius had woken up with some numbness in his left foot and after testing, was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS).

Despite the devastating diagnosis, Demitrius would not give up on his dream to become a professional soccer player. On March 16th, 2011, Toronto FC drafted Demitrius with their first pick becoming the first major league soccer player with MS. Omphroy made his debut for Toronto June 29, 2011 as a second half sub for Joao Plata in a 1–0 home victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC. When Demitrius stepped on the field he realized his dream. Demitrius then went on to represent the Philippines National Team, a life long dream he had wanted to do for his grandfather.

Today, Demitrius travels the nation as a Multiple Sclerosis Advocate and health ambassador, spreading awareness to healthier living. Demitrius saw there was so much great information about new drug therapy treatments being researched, but there wasn’t enough focus on health and lifestyle changes that could help people with MS live better lives. As a result, he created a non-profit, WeHeartHealth.org, as a resource and a community where people with Multiple Sclerosis could find information about how to live healthier in their life through Nutrition, Exercise, and Wellness.

Episode Details

  • Demtrius diagnosis story
    • Playing in Portugal for the goal of getting a professional contract at 18
    • How optic neuritis changed his professional path and sent him back home
    • How playing at Cal Berkley put Demitrius in a position to be drafted by the MLS
    • With the 26th pick in the MLS draft, Demitrius realized his dream becoming the first major league soccer player with multiple sclerosis
  • Demitrius path to patient advocacy
  • How the athlete’s mentality has helped Demitrius manage his MS
  • What that moment felt like when Demitrius stepped on the MLS field becoming the first person with MS to play in a major league soccer game
  • The decision to step away from major league soccer, finish his degree and join the workforce
  • Advice for people living with a chronic illness that are hesitant to return to school or work
  • Diet, nutrition and the importance of keeping a journal
  • WeHeartHealth.org
  • Closing thoughts

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