SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A book signing in Sioux Falls Monday evening featured a local author and financial services professional who is losing his ability to speak due to a rare brain disorder.
46-year-old Tim Schut, a Chester, South Dakota native, is the author of “American Boy,” a recently released book about him and the condition he’s been battling that came on unexpectedly three years ago. He says his doctor told him the rarity of the disease is one in million, and he was only given 10-15 years left to live when he was diagnosed.
In June of 2020, Tim started having problems speaking.
“I asked my dentist buddy, does this have anything to do with my tongue, my teeth, my mouth. He’s like, ‘No, [you] need to get that checked.’ I went to my primary care physician. He prescribed speech therapy and a brain MRI,” he said.
The MRI came back clear and he saw a neurologist at Sanford, but there were still no answers. After a year of trying to figure out what was wrong, Tim was diagnosed with “Primary Progressive Apraxia Speech” at the Mayo Clinic.
“Speech is my superpower, and the fact that it is getting taken away from me is devastating,” Tim said.
Tim remains optimistic after life handed him the unexpected. Since being diagnosed, he wrote a book about his life and the condition — and he did so with people close to him in mind.
“For my kids and grandkids,” Tim said.
Tim’s mom, Pam Schut, was at the event and says writing a book has always been on Tim’s bucket list, but she never anticipated it would come because of the illness.
“We always just figured his book that he would write would be more on the financial side or the leadership. He’s really into leadership. But as it turns out, the book that he’s written is about his family and growing up, and so he’s just an inspiration to everybody,” Pam said.
The future is somewhat unknown for Schut and his battle with the disease.
“His brain will deteriorate, his speech will go and then so will everything else. He will not have a normal lifespan,” Pam said.
But Schut doesn’t let it slow him down.
“We have found there’s a whole new Tim that has really nothing to do with speech, and the fact that he’s a great motivator,” Pam said.
Mary Johnson was at the book signing, and she says her husband was born with Cerebral Palsy and had speech issues, so she was interested in how Schut coped having developed this condition later in life.
“His life work was in the public arena and public speaking, and so that tied me to his story,” Johnson said.
When Tim was diagnosed, he even recorded himself reading books so that someday his grandkids will get to hear “Grandpa Tim” reading them stories.
You can visit Tim’s website to find more information on the book and how to buy it.