TAMPA (FOX 13) - When Plant High School rowing team captain Phillip Hampton started to notice some weakness in his grip while lifting weights, he knew something was wrong. What he didn't know is a series of tests would lead him to a diagnosis of a nerve disease that could keep him out of the water forever.
Hampton refuses to let that happen. Doctors say he has Multifocal Motor Neuropathy, or MMN for short. If left untreated, it can cause the muscles in his limbs to become useless.
The condition prompts one's immune system to attack nerves, which lead to degenerative weakness. It is treatable.
"One side usually is affected first and you're unable to walk. You're unable to use your arms," said Katherine Hampton, Phillip's mom.
Hampton plans to get the only known treatment -- transfusions that can cost up to $30,000 and are required monthly. For now, the treatments are covered by Hampton's insurance, but the family is worried a new policy might not pay or will have some kind of cap.
Phillip's mom, Katherine, is a single mother and can't afford the treatments. Katherine created a GoFundMe account and the Plant High School community has already raised nearly enough money for one treatment.
Phillip and his mom say it's hard to express their gratitude. He plans on finishing out his senior rowing season and will attend University of Central Florida in the fall. Going to college in Orlando will allow him to come home for treatments.
Phillip says he wants to educate others about MMN and eventually become an advocate for people with the disease or others struggling to pay for treatments that are exceedingly expensive.
"I just want everyone to know that I'm happy. I'm optimistic about the treatment and that no one should feel afraid or sorry for me because I'm completely optimistic and I know I can beat this," said Phillip.
Phillip Hampton's GoFundMe can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/huawx5rg