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‘They’re just an inspiration to watch’: Gonzaga basketball fan uses team as motivation during treatment of rare disease

Dwayne Wilson was diagnosed with Pompe disease in 2018, a disorder that causes the deterioration of muscles.

Spokane won't be hosting any tournament games this year but that won't stop fans from supporting their team from afar.

The basketball teams at Gonzaga represent an entire region. 

With the tournament starting up, that passion and presence can be felt in every single corner of the United States.

“I’m very excited for March Madness this year since it was canceled last year with the pandemic,” said Gonzaga fan Dwayne Wilson.

Every game that’s played and cheered on is an opportunity to be a part of a larger community.

“I was fortunate enough to be at the last two sweet-sixteen games that the zags were in,” Wilson continued.

Wilson became a fan 25 years ago when he moved to Spokane.

Anytime he has the chance to attend a game, he’ll always be there. He now considers himself an advocate for the squad but that’s not the only thing he’s passionate about.

In 2018, Wilson was officially diagnosed with Pompe disease.

“It’s a rare inherited and genetic disease and it’s muscle weakness. A type of muscular dystrophy.”

Every two weeks he has to get transfusions to slow down the muscle weakness progression.

The enzymes he receives help stop the breakdown of his muscles and physical therapy helps with his walking.

Bringing awareness to the disease is just as important to him as supporting the Zags. He often looks at the work they put in to help him get through his treatments.

“Watching the Zags, seeing their determination and their motivation. They’re just an inspiration to watch,” he said.

Wilson now lives in Southern California but his love for the Zags remains true. 

Oftentimes he’ll show up to his doctor's office rocking GU gear. 

Although watching the tournament will be different this year because of protocols in place at the games, he’ll still be connected with the fan base and is traveling up to Spokane this week for his birthday.

“So we’ll be watching them on TV, cheering them on, and hoping for them to advance one game at a time.”

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