Weightlifting Principal Powers Through All Obstacles

“I like having a goal to achieve, no matter what the obstacles,” declares Charlie Driscoll, 54, Associate Principal at Davenport Central High School.

Driscoll, a powerlifter who deadlifted 854 pounds at age 25 and became a world champion at age 50 deadlifting 766 pounds (watch his video below), is certainly no stranger to adversity. Now he faces his latest challenge: strengthening his brand new knee after replacement surgery.

“Worn Out Knee” Replaced by ORA Knee Surgeon Dr. Peter Rink

Charlie Driscoll COE Homepage Photo“I had to choose between lifting and walking, so I chose to walk,” says Charlie. “I started lifting weights at age 14. I competed for 35 years and just wore my knee out from four decades of weight training.”

At the height of his career, Charlie was one of the top-ranked powerlifters in the world and is most remembered for his 854 pound deadlift – which is one of the top ranked deadlifts in the history of the sport for his weight class.

But powerlifting gave way to a new passion and a different set of challenges: making a difference to young people.

“I went on to college and became a schoolteacher and principal,” he says. “I come from a working class background, and I have always wanted to work with kids — to be a champion for the underdogs. My specialization is to be a role model and advocate — to be a voice for the voiceless.”

As an Associate Principal at Davenport Central working with instructional supervision and student discipline, Charlie is on the front lines every day, helping students navigate the challenges of adolescence, peer pressure, and in some cases, troubled homes.

“My story pales in comparison to their own challenges. These students’ resiliency inspires me.”

Three months after his total knee replacement at ORA Orthopedics, Charlie is once again walking up and down Central’s staircases and six floors. “Everyone tells me they can’t even tell I had knee surgery. I’m doing great and on a mission to be the fastest and strongest in recovery. The surgery went well, thanks to Dr. Peter Rink at ORA.”

Dr. Peter Rink, ORA Orthopedics
Dr. Peter Rink, ORA Orthopedics

Charlie says they got to know each other because Dr. Rink serves as Central’s athletic team physician. “I chose Dr. Rink for my surgery because he has a genuine interest in my health, as well as me as a person. My new knee is awesome.”

Dr. Rink specializes in total joint surgery and says Charlie’s knee needed to be replaced.

“The X-rays showed he had bone-on-bone arthritis — basically his joint cartilage had worn away.”

Dr. Rink says age and wear can contribute to arthritis and in Charlie’s case, powerlifting likely accelerated the deterioration.

Total knee replacement has become a viable alternative for adults who want to remain active. Dr. Rink says the total knee replacement procedure basically resurfaces the knee.

“We remove the arthritic surface in surgery and then insert metal and medical-grade plastic components that replace the knee’s worn surface.”

The surgery takes about an hour and the patient is up walking right away. The hospital stay lasts only a day or two. Physical therapy is necessary for six weeks and patients fully recover in about three months.

ORA performs more total knee replacements than any other orthopedic practice in the Quad-Cities area, with over 1,200 total knee replacements performed each year.

The surgery was a decision Charlie does not regret. “Before the surgery, my knee was painful and was grinding anytime I used it. Now, my new knee feels great, and I’m back to work doing the job I’m most passionate about.

“I love overcoming obstacles — working with kids every day and seeing them overcome their own challenges in adolescence motivates me. I try to give them hope and tell them ‘no matter what they’re going through, they can overcome adversity.’ In turn, their tenacity inspires me.”

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