HOUSTON Modern medicine and high octane motorcycle fuel will both help keep a Supercross rider flying high across the dirt-covered floor of Reliant Stadium this weekend.
Carl Schlacht, 27, turned pro in 2005, and now competes as a professional Supercross racer. On Saturday Reliant hosts the Monster Energy Supercross series featuring 40 of the best riders in the country.
But Schlacht s unique story began when he was just 1 year old and diagnosed with primary immunodeficiency. PI or PIDD is the label given to a group of more than 150 genetic disorders that compromise the immune system.
It means I can become sick very easily, said Schlacht prior to a warm-up ride on the Reliant track. If I wasn t to treat this illness I could end up in the hospital and even worse.
Schlact does not have the same disorder that afflicted Houston s David Vetter, the boy in the plastic bubble. Vetter suffered from SCID, severe combined immune deficiency. After 12 years living primarily inside the sterile environment of a plastic containment structure and occasionally venturing outside in a NASA designed space suit, he died at Texas Children s Hospital after an unsuccessful attempt to cure him with a bone marrow transplant.
But on the 40th anniversary of his birthday last year researchers publicly credited Vetter with being the landmark patient who contributed research and cures in a variety of immunology fields.
As Carl Schlacht, originally from Cleveland, Ohio, climbed on his motorcycle just a few miles from the Texas Children s Hospital, he didn t know that Vetter s legacy lives on. The David Center at Texas Children s Hospital, named after Vetter, continues to treat children born with immune system problems, including PI or PIDD.
Schlacht is able to lead a normal life, and fly high on his motorcycle, thanks to a single medication. A once-a-week dose of Hizentra from CSL Behring gives him the protection his immune system cannot provide on its own.
I m just thankful I m healthy and I m able to stay this way and be out here, said Schlacht. Ever since I can remember, I ve just loved being on a bike. The freedom, and then especially to be out here with thousands of fans and racing against the best guys in the world, just really makes it awesome to me.
The 2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross event at Reliant Stadium begins Saturday at 7 p.m.