TYLER, TX (KLTV) - At the age of 10, Shad Ireland went on dialysis. He later underwent two kidney transplant surgeries, one of which was unsuccessful. He was told he probably wouldn't live past 25. He not only lived past 25, he also went on to become the first dialysis patient to complete the famous Ironman Triathlon. Now, at the age of 38, he travels around the country, telling his story. In Tyler, he got to meet a very big fan.
Pete Peden, 81, of Tyler has been on dialysis for two years, and says at his lowest point, he got very depressed with the treatment.
"Taking my dialysis, I started feeling self-pity, and I thought, 'Well, I need to snap out of this,'" said Peden.
It was about that time that Peden heard about Shad Ireland, and the way he had been able to overcome a lifetime of illness. Peden says he was struck by Ireland's exploits on a bicycle.
"I thought, 'Well, I used to do that,' and I wanted to get back into it," he said.
A tricycle is the way he got back into it. Tuesday morning, he rode three miles to his dialysis center, and got to the man that helped him get going. But Ireland says he is the one that got the most out of the visit.
"Mr. Pete inspired me, and the patients that I met here in Tyler inspired me to continue to push forward, to continue to set the standard that others can follow," he said.
Peden says he will keep on working, even though he is not quite ready for the Ironman yet.
"Well, I'm not very good at swimming, but I probably could try running," he laughed.
Ireland also says that he wishes more professional athletes would remember that they are privileged, and that they can be an inspiration to people.