Bob Sutton

55-year-old risk-taker, currently training for part two of his Foolâ's Errand for Epilepsy

Street Talk

On September 1, you're going to run a 17-mile round trip to free-dive 35 feet into the deepest waterfall pit in the Smokies to retrieve a four-carat diamond ringâ"that you just threw into the water. Why?

  To help prevent birth defects in babies born to women with epilepsy. Can you think of a better reason? I am trying to get pregnant women with epilepsy to call Harvard Anti-Epilepsy Pregnancy Registry at 1-888-233-2334. It is really important to me and is a really easy problem to solve. There is a serious lack of data getting collected, so I figured if Harvard couldn't solve their data-collection problem then I would do dangerous and disturbing stunts to draw attention to the plight of these babies. There are 93,000 babies are born to these mothers every year and it is a crap shoot right now as to the safety of the child's gestation. Many are born with neural tube defects like spina bifida.

Where did you get the ring, how much is it worth, and what will physically happen to you if you can't find it?

I got an old friend, Pam Hanna at Fosters Jewelers, to agree to loan the ring to me about a year ago, and now that I took her up on her promise, she and her insurance agent are on the phone a lot, or so I hear. I have the ring on an open account at a cost of $28,200 plus taxes. She said something as I left the store and I can't really remember what it was, but she seemed really serious. Doesn't my American Express card like protect me or something? I saw this commercial onceâ As for losing the diamond, that won't be a problem. It will be tied to my wedding ring. If your wedding ring landed at the bottom of the river, I'll bet you could find it, too.

Have you ever done much high-diving or underwater diamond-searching before?

First of all, I am not jumping off the falls. That is how really stupid people get hurt. I yell at the kids up there when I see them. What they don't know is that it isn't 35 feet deep in the place you can jump. Jumping off waterfalls is a fool's game. I am not a fool. I am an old jock/engineer seeing just what I can do at 55. I am going down gently with a big, strong man holding a rope with instructions to pull me up hard if I am down more than say some reasonable breath-holding time, 5 to 10 minutes tops.  

What's the next part of your Fool's Errand, and how worried should we be for you?

Well, frankly I am having fun training but I am terrified. All the other stunts are child's play compared to this one. I am committed to fighting a boxing match with the WBC Women's World Boxing Champion Ann Marie Saccurato â“The Brooklyn Brawler.â” I have been training seriously at boxing for 2-1/2 years now under a variety of coaches. John Foust of Foust Fights has worked with me hard for the past year and boxing legend Bernard â“BT Expressâ” Taylor has just signed on to help. After the falls I will be fully recovered from an accidental knockout and broken nose last month. Then I should be back to serious fight training. My head injury consultant demands six weeks off after a concussion.

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