A Role Model for Hemophiliacs
Growing up the son of a football coach, Brett Sherman always had a love for sports, especially football. However, being born with hemophilia, a condition where blood fails to clot normally, Brett knew playing football likely wasn’t in the cards for him.
Determined not to let his disease prevent him from playing sports, Brett decided to take up golf – a sport that was safe for him to play. He played throughout his time in college at Florida State University, where he graduated with a degree in business and in professional golf course management. Now at the age of 34, Brett has made a career out of the sport. He is a certified PGA professional in North Florida, as well as facility manager of Belle Glade Golf & Country Club in The Villages.
“The most common misconception about hemophilia is that if you get a cut and bleed, you are going to die,” said Brett. “That is not the case.”
Born in Kentucky, Brett’s family packed up to move to Florida when he was three months old. While on the drive to Florida, Brett was involved an automobile accident and was immediately rushed to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. He credits the hospital for saving his life, and he has been a patient of UF Health ever since.
“Dr. Wynn from the pediatrics side and Dr. Rajasekhar from the adult side really specialize in what they do best,” said Brett. “UF Health provides me with a 24-hour center to get the treatment and care that I need.”
Although living with hemophilia has been difficult at times, Brett has never perceived his disease as a weakness.
“I used my hemophilia as motivation, rather than something that gets me down,” said Brett. “It is important to be cautious, but there are plenty of things hemophiliacs can do – like swimming, tennis and soccer. Even if it can’t be a physical contact sport, you can still find something to put your passion into.”
This message is one that Brett has shared with thousands of people in the United States and even across the world. He has had the opportunity to share his story in cities such as Germany and France, and has traveled to nearly 20 U.S. states in the past year. In 2013, Brett delivered the keynote address at the annual meeting of the National Hemophilia Foundation. He is also an active member of the Patients and Families Advisory Board for the Hemophilia Treatment Center (HTC) at UF Health.
“Brett has been so helpful and willing to help out our HTC here in Gainesville,” said pediatric hematologist Tung Wynn, M.D. “He stays active and fit, and I see him all the time at the programs we have with his family, being engaged in the community both locally and nationally.”
Brett hopes that by speaking about his personal experiences, he can serve as a role model for younger hemophiliacs.
“Each time I speak, I have the ability to influence one patient or child who allows hemophilia to get them down.”
Brett is now the father of a 5-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son. While his daughter is an obligate carrier of hemophilia, his son does not have the disease, as he did not inherit Brett’s X-chromosome. As a father of two, Brett hopes to be a positive role model for his children, one of whom has inherited his own passion for football.
“Before every game, I share my story with my son,” said Brett. “Each time, he begins to understand a little bit more how lucky he is.”