Lululemon Founder Pledges $100 Million To Find Cure For Illness He's Had For 30 Years

Lululemon founder Chip Wilson
Solve FSHD | Team

The billionaire founder of Lululemon has made a nine-figure commitment to find a cure for the muscular dystrophy he's been fighting for 30 years.

Sixty-seven-year-old Chip Wilson says he hopes to find a cure for the ailment by 2027.

Wilson founded Lululemon in 1998.

A Lululemon store
Wikimedia Commons | Raysonho

It quickly became one of the fastest growing companies in the world. Today, Lululemon has an annual revenue of $4.4 billion and operates close to 500 stores around the world. So, to say Wilson has been a success is a slight understatement.

But there have certainly been some bumps along the way, including one that has affected his day-to-day life for three decades.

Wilson has had facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy type 2 for 30 years.

A diagram showing FSHD muscles
Wikipedia | Daniel C. L. Zammit

Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy, or FSHD, is a type of muscular dystrophy that causes muscles to progressively become impaired. It generally affects muscles in the face, upper arms, and shoulder blades.

The diagnosis led Wilson to focus on fitness.

Wikimedia Commons | Psemdel

“I started not being able to lift my hand up so I started doing the Grouse Grind [an endurance hike in Vancouver],” Wilson told Global News. “I became fanatic about it. I’m a Type A personality when it comes to athletics. I love the endorphin rush. I love the runner’s high, I guess you would call it.”

Three years ago, he had a wake-up call.

An airport terminal
Unsplash | Dennis Gecaj

While he'd been managing his condition, three years ago, Wilson tripped and fell at an airport. He got up, took a few more steps, and tripped again.

"And then I realized that the muscle on my left foot wasn't coming up," he said. "It was not working anymore."

He's launching an initiative to find a cure.

Screengrab of the Solve FSHD site
Solve FSHD | Solve FSHD

Wilson, who's now 67, announced a new initiative — Solve FSHD — to find a cure within five years. He also put down $100 million to kick-start the project.

"Solve FSHD will accelerate the underfunded development of drugs and therapies to stop muscle degeneration, increase muscle strength and improve the quality of life for those living with this," he explained.

Wilson is used to making headlines.

Lululemon founder Chip Wilson
Solve FSHD | Team

Some are good, some are bad, but Wilson is always a newsmaker. He courted controversy in 2013 for saying that some women's bodies aren't suited for his yoga pants.

Last year, he donated $4 million to conserve Douglas fir ecosystems in British Columbia.

Wilson made his FSHD announcement on International Women's Day.

A Lululemon store
Wikimedia Commons | ajay_suresh

The move raised some eyebrows, particularly in light of comments Wilson has made in the past that could be perceived as sexist. When asked about the timing of the announcement, Wilson said it was "unintentional."

It's a big move for the billionaire.

A stack of $100 bills
Unsplash | Nathan Dumlao

Wilson is worth nearly $5 billion, but still, donating $100 million to a cause isn't chump change. It'll be fascinating to see whether this massive investment truly can lead to a cure in the next five years.

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h/t: Global News