Friday, May 6, 2011

The Miraculous Marathon

For the past several years, John, his father, and usually several of his sisters participate in the Lincoln half marathon. The whole family talks about the event all year. There is a lot of chatter of whose going to break whose record, who won't finish the race, whose signed up to run, but won't train so they quietly back out.

It is something I look forward to every year. We've made it quite a tradition of having a spaghetti feed the night before. One year, John didn't train at all, stayed up until 3:30 AM with his older brother eating chicken wings and McDonalds. He still ran the race four hours later, finished, and did very well. What a guy!
Our children have started looking forward to the event every year also. We have four strategic spots we go to at 7:20 AM. First, we stand by the Cathedral. The runners have just gotten started so everybody is real chipper! We then head to Runza where one can tell the race is getting pretty strenuous, then onto a spot near Blessed Sacrament which is where John always says is the "key" spot because the race is almost done and he likes us there to cheer and encourage. We then race down to Memorial Stadium to cheer him across the finish line. It is a bit crazy getting everybody in and out of the car 42,000 times, hats, coats, mittens, diapers, food, signs, but it is all worth it to see John run.

Though this year had a different ending. We went to all our usual spots and John usually runs with his father, Wally whom had just turned 60 years old the Wednesday before the race. Wally's knee had been giving him trouble the past months so John was out a head of him. I didn't wait at each stop to see Wally because I was trying to stay up with John because he was going for a new personal best and trying to beat Wally's record.

As John crossed the finish line, my phone rang and it was his mother. I thought they were in the stadium also calling to tell me they saw John finish. I answered the phone saying "Did you see him?"

I heard, "Lindsay, Wally collapsed. They are doing CPR. They are taking him to Bryan Hospital." WHAT????? It was one of the those moments when life zeros in on the moment and the world around you stops. I was in a stadium with thousands of other people and trying to keep all six kids with me in this packed crowd. I couldn't find John nor Anne.

It wasn't registering. I initially thought he was just dehydrated or exhausted, but then realized it was more serious. She asked me to wait for John and my sister-in-law Anne so we could all head to the Emergency Room.

John decided to walk back to his car because he couldn't find me. When he called, I had to tell him the news. So heart breaking.

While running, Wally's left arm began to hurt so he loosened the strap he had on his arm that was carrying his phone. His arm continued to hurt so he tried to make it to the side of the road where he leaned up against a car and collapsed.

He had a massive heart attack. At that very moment, a cardiologist ran by who noticed him down and asked the lady who was assisting him if he was okay. She thought he was just dehydrated. The cardiologist kept running, but then circled back to check on him. He found no pulse and started CPR immediately. At the same time, a Army Special forces medic saw Wally struggling and then collapse. He said that he saw his eyes roll back into his head and had no heart beat. Between the two heroic men, they went to work. Additionally, a good friend of ours was on his way to mass and his wife noticed these two men doing CPR. He is also a doctor so he jumped out to help Wally. It wasn't until they were loading him into the ambulance did he realize who the name the medics were saying really was. God provided three doctors to save his life. Unbelievable. One man had a mask on him so they were able to give him better life saving breaths. The ambulance arrived and had to shock his heart twice to get it beating again. It is so crazy to me that he was gone for a while, but now with us. Truly, a second opportunity in life.

The medic reported thinking that there is no way this man will make it. He told his wife that he had a 15% chance of survival. The cardiologist said he stopped to help because he knew this man must have a family, must have someone he didn't get to say goodbye to. So very thoughtful of him. The medic also said that for some reason when they loaded Wally into the ambulance he turned and yelled, "WAKE UP."

By the time we arrived at the hospital, Wally was on a ventilator and in a paralyzed state so they could figure out what was going on. After examination, it was concluded he had a massive heart attack with the artery the medical field calls "The Widow Maker" being blocked. Due to its name, unless you receive immediate assistance, you are gone. Unbelievable. The doctors put a stint in to open the artery. The first day was rough, but Wally made gradual improvements. Each day, he became stronger and stronger and by Wednesday which was just three days later, he walked out of the hospital. Crazy.

The event was WAY up there on the amazing powers of Our God. It has also left me with so many questions. Wally is in such incredible shape. He has run every day most of his adult life. He eats very well, drinks his red wine, follows a low sodium diet, eats his dark chocolates, but God in His wisdom chose Wally to go through this event only to save his life and provide the circumstances surrounding him to be able to life longer. Wally runs most of the time by himself on trails. If this would have happened any other time, we wouldn't have him with us. Then above all people to stop, it is a doctor that Wally knows well.

Why do we ever worry about a silly darn thing????? I've been asking myself that question a lot this week. For this week, I am so grateful to God for saving Wally's life for John, John's mother, his other 7 children and 24 grandchildren. I love Wally and am so glad I've told him that before so many times. He is a remarkable person, father, human, husband, son, etc., etc. He is so kind and loving. He is very dear to me. Wally definately is one of those people that if the world goes south, you definately want to have him with you not only to survive physically, but his understanding of the spiritual world is remarkable. He would give us all strength to do what we needed to do at the right time.

He is home now resting and being very well taken care of. He hopes to run again and I am sure he will because he loves everything outdoors from running, hiking, sailing, gardening. Thank you, Lord for more time with this wonderful person.

Below are several news articles and interviews about the event.

Luck kept runner in race after heart stops (We don't believe in luck, it was God's providence. AMEN.)

Marathon Runner Alive After Heart Attack During Race


  1. Such an amazing story! Our continued prayers for your entire family.

  2. Oh Lindsay....... so very glad to hear that your father in law is improving daily, and of course we all KNOW that it was not luck, thanks be to God. I will add him to my prayer list.... I marvel at your have the gift of written word like your mother...what a blessing it has been to me..... big hugs Lindsay hobbin!