Alumnus doctor helps professional athletes get back on their feet
Dr. Gideon Lewis, ’00 | Reconstructive Foot and Ankle Surgeon
By Daniela Marin
Dr. Gideon Lewis, ’00, stood before an audience of thousands of UCF graduates and their families, as the keynote speaker at UCF’s spring 2014 commencement, where he shared his accomplishments since he donned his own cap and gown, and divulged the philosophy that helped him reach them.
“I still stand by my words that the two most valuable assets in life are relationships and experiences,” he says. “Looking back at my journey, these priceless things are what I’ve built my entire career around.”
In his private practice as a double board-certified reconstructive foot and ankle surgeon, Lewis specializes in sports medicine, treating professional athletes, like Olympic gold medalist sprinter Justin Catlin, Hall of Fame water skier and X-Game gold medalist Ron Scarpa, and Canadian pro football player Keron Williams.
“I’ve always had the desire and dream of establishing a sports medicine practice working with the world’s top athletes,” Lewis says. “I’ve had the privilege of creating a practice geared toward these types of patients, and, I’m proud to say, there’s rarely a day when I don’t treat a professional athlete.”
His disposition for talent, commitment and passion has not only earned him a revered reputation among his patients, but throughout the entire sports community.
“Dr. Lewis’ professional background is outstanding, but what truly sets him apart from other physicians is his understanding of the mind, the heart and the spirit of the athlete,” says Susan Paul, a top 10 U.S. “Supercoach,” as ranked by Runner’s World Magazine.
Lewis’ past experience as a Division I collegiate athlete has served both as motivation and an added resource for delivering consistently great results. The former tennis player’s ability to relate to his patients has made being part of an athlete’s journey from injury to victory that much more rewarding.
I will always strive toward making my alma mater the top university in the nation.
As an assistant professor with the UCF College of Medicine, he’s had the opportunity to stay involved with rising medical students. He was also named chief sport medicine faculty advisor for the college, and is the founder and director of the UCF Pre-Medical Surgical Internship Program.
“I thoroughly enjoy working with pre-medical and medical students,” he says. “Over the next few years, I hope to take on more leadership positions and continue to teach these future physicians.”
Lewis’ inspiration comes from a genuine interest in providing guidance to passionate students combined with efforts to support his alma mater.
“I have an obligation to give back to the institution and supporters who have given so much to me throughout my life,” Lewis says. “My success is somewhat dependent on the success of UCF. I will always strive toward making my alma mater the top university in the nation.”
Q. Why did you choose to attend UCF?
A. I transferred to UCF after a year of attending the University of North Carolina, where I played tennis. After I realized my hopes of becoming a professional tennis player weren’t going to happen, I enrolled at UCF alongside my good friend Joe Foley from high school. We both chose UCF because of its strong pre-medical curriculum. Today, Dr. Foley is a renowned interventional cardiologist, and I’m a board-certified reconstructive foot and ankle surgeon.
Q. Favorite UCF memory?
A. Hanging out at the Pre-Health Professions office with Susie Yantz and the rest of my pre-med classmates.
Q. Favorite professor?
A. Dr. Budd Berringer. He taught me the importance of always giving 100 percent in everything I do, and always finding the opportunity to provide service to others.
Q. Favorite class?
A. Endocrinology. Being a molecular biology and microbiology major, I developed an interest in the mechanisms and pathways of the human body. This area of discipline encompasses these in almost all aspects.
Q. Were you involved in any extracurricular activities?
A. During my time at UCF, I was very active with the Pre-Professional Medical Society, and even became president of the organization my last year.
Q. What was your experience like as UCF’s commencement speaker?
A. It was one of the most amazing moments in my life. Having the opportunity to speak in front of an audience of more than 12,000 people was very surreal. To share my motivational words and advice with the hundreds of graduating students was a very humbling experience.
Q. Describe a typical day at work.
A. My typical day depends on whether or not I’m performing surgery. During my typical office day, I will spend eight hours treating patients and then an additional two hours on paperwork and phone calls. Otherwise, I’m in the operating room all day during my surgery days. In addition, I work on my non-medical business, Go Chia!, usually before and after office hours.
Q. Most memorable day at work so far?
A. I received an emergent phone call from a hospital physician requesting me to perform surgery immediately on a pediatric trauma patient. After rushing to the hospital, I performed a complex surgery by reattaching this young boy’s traumatically amputated toe. Later, and without any prior knowledge, it was discovered that this boy was part of one of Florida’s most horrific child abuse cases, which also gained national media attention.
Q. What or who inspires you?
A. People who achieve the impossible. My father has inspired me by his life’s journey of being born and raised in a poor, developing country, who then immigrated to the United States for medical school, and eventually became a family practice physician. Dr. Sarah Kureshi, a UCF graduate and former classmate, is a walking example of someone who epitomizes the word perfection. Not only has she achieved almost everything academically, but also her humanitarian efforts have inspired thousands to make the world a better place.
Q. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
A. I’m attempting that now! I’m the co-founder and co-developer of Go Chia!, a super-foods brand. Developing a healthy food and beverage company has allowed me to take on a business outside of the medical industry. I love promoting this healthy brand in a fun and positive way.
Q. Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A. “Welcome every opportunity to succeed.” —Dr. Zac Haas (my former roommate)