Overcoming the Odds

Ten Years After "Game Over," Local Athlete is Setting World Records

Click above to select next video in the series.

Click above to select next video in the series.

Bob Evans is a lifelong athlete.

After playing high school and college basketball, he turned to running, acrobatics, and "joggling" – running while juggling. For the past year, Bob Evans and his wife Trish have toured the country, performing juggling, unicycling and acrobalance shows. Currently, the couple holds four Guinness World Records for joggling. In August 2011, they became the first couple to finish a triathlon while juggling.

It's hard to imagine Bob not being active. But his athletic career nearly ended a decade ago, when a sports injury took him out of the game and into the capable care of orthopedic surgeon Gerard Adler, MD.

Game Over?

Dr. Adler met Bob in high school, when he was treated for a minor sports injury. After his first year playing college basketball at Michigan Tech, Bob experienced sharp pain in his right knee, so he consulted with Dr. Adler and agreed on cartilage repair surgery.

This was a potential career-ending condition -- but Bob was determined to work through it. "I was a big time basketball fan since before I could walk. When I was told that I might not be able to play again, it was shocking to hear." After almost a full year of rehabilitation, Bob had what he called his "best year of college basketball ever." Then, injury struck again. Just before the basketball season started, Bob landed on his left knee and instantly knew there was severe damage. "It's one of those injuries where you know it's not good right way," he noted. In the middle of the night, he called his parents first, then Dr. Adler second. "I had developed a lot of trust in him. I wanted him to be the first to look at it, so I drove down from Michigan."

Dr. Adler's assessment was bleak. Bob's kneecap was dislocated, bone had chipped off, and there were additional concerns. "I still wanted to get back on the court if there was a chance," Bob said.

To have that chance, he'd need surgery and rehab. "With arthroscopic knee surgery, we were able to address the dislocated joint cartilage, repair the patella and remove bone fragments from the femur," said Dr. Adler.

"I had a lot of questions. ‘When can I start running?' was the first one. It was a tough process, but an important part of healing. Dr. Adler guided me through that."

"Following physical therapy and the use of a knee brace, Bob was back to normal play only three months after surgery," said Dr. Adler. "With open surgery, he may not have played again for years."

Expanding the Playing Field

Bob ended his college career on a high note, and began looking for new sports to try. He and his girlfriend (and later, wife) Trish tried swing dancing, running, juggling, water polo, hula-hooping and rock-climbing. Always up for a challenge, they combined running and juggling and became "jogglers."

Bob and Trish spent the last year touring the country, joggling races and performing acrobatic shows for schools. "Our shows are very physical – 45-60 minutes – juggling, standing on shoulders, balance poses and riding unicycles." In addition to demanding physical feats, they share a message about goal setting, practice and perseverance - to which Bob is no stranger.

When he suffered a separated shoulder in 2010, Bob had no questions about where to go for the best orthopedic evaluation. Today, he says he is in "the best shape of my life." He and Trish sometimes perform 4-5 shows a day without problems. His knees "feel great" while running and he still plays basketball.

Bob currently holds the world record for 5K and 10K joggling events, and Trish is the women's record holder. The couple has raced in 30 different states, and won titles in 16 competitions. In August 2012, they raised over $4,000 for the Special Olympics at an Iowa triathlon.

Next up, Bob and his wife will travel to South Korea to teach English – and inspire audiences with their athletic acts. If injury is ever an issue, he knows Dr. Adler and the Aurora team are there to help him back on the field – no matter what the sport.

"Right at Home"

Bob credits the Aurora team for making sports happen again after surgeries, pain management and rehabilitation. "My family is full of athletes, and Aurora caregivers always make us feel right at home. Dr. Adler always explains things in terms I understand. You may leave treatment when you recover, but you never really leave the Aurora family."

"I overcame my ‘game over' moment," said Bob. "Many athletes don't come back from that. Without Dr. Adler's support, and the confidence he instilled, I may not have come back from that either."

"Today, physical activity is still such a huge aspect of our lives. It has opened up so many doors and opportunities. We hope to inspire that active spirit in others."

Living with a sports injury? Give up the pain – not your sport! At Aurora Health Care, we offer you one of the largest, most experienced groups of orthopedic specialists in Wisconsin. Find a specialist and learn more about our award-winning programs.