Lynchburg high school basketball coach receives rare diagnosis

Lynchburg & Central Virginia News

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Dozens gathered outdoors at Apocalypse Ale Works Saturday afternoon to participate in ‘Cornhole for a Cause.’ However, the cause — Wegener’s disease — is unfamiliar to many people.

The 33-year-old E.C. Glass High School basketball coach, DJ Best, had always been as healthy as anyone else his age. In July, though, he was admitted to Lynchburg General Hospital for what doctors thought was COVID-19, only to find out it was much worse.

Before his hospital visit, he was recovering from appendicitis, but recovery wasn’t going as expected.

“Realizing that I couldn’t feel my limbs, couldn’t feel my legs, couldn’t feel my arms,” said Best.

He then went back to the hospital for doctors to run multiple tests for the coronavirus.

“As they came back negative, the doctor came in and told me ‘the only way I can help you is to put you on a ventilator,'” said Best.

Best says that’s the last thing he remembers before being diagnosed with Wegener’s, a rare autoimmune disease that greatly threatens the immune system.

Desha Best, the coach’s wife, was by his side the whole time and says the uncertainty was terrifying. The couple, who has two young kids, worried about what was to come next.

“It was scary to have someone you love and your soulmate there, and he can’t say anything, he can’t hear anything, he’s just laying there,” described Best’s wife.

During two months of hospital stays, Best’s E.C. Glass family and wife were there along the way.

He says the toughest part was being away from his kids, missing his daughter’s preschool graduation and the first day of school. Another thing that he feared was not being able to get back on the basketball court or play sports with his kids as they grow older.

Doctors told Best there’s a chance of remission, but it’s not known if or how much his condition may worsen. For now, though, he’s grateful for all the time he does have.

“Just make sure you have a good surrounding village around you, a good support because without them, I don’t know what I would do,” said Best’s wife.

The ‘Cornhole for a Cause’ event on Saturday, Dec. 4 was put together by a friend of the couple. They didn’t have a fundraising goal, but say the turnout was better than expected.

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