Global Heroes


The Medtronic Foundation’s Global Heroes program celebrated runners from around the world who benefited from medical technology. Past participants included 259 runners representing 38 different countries and a wide range of medical conditions. You can learn more about the Medtronic Foundation Global Heroes alumni by reading their bios here.

A new program has been created by Medtronic to honor athletes with medical technology, called Medtronic Global Champions. We pay tribute to and recognize all Medtronic Foundation Global Heroes alumni as honorary members of the Medtronic Global Champions inaugural team.



  • Jason Burke — Boston, Massachusetts: Burke has diabetes, and he used to have trouble running in the morning without his glucose levels plummeting. He received an insulin pump, and now he can train without having to worry about the glucose levels. Jason is a veteran of 26 marathons and his goal is to run in every state. Finish time: 2:54:25
  • Jerry Nairn — Chandler, Arizona: Nairn has run 30 marathons and achieved a personal best time of 3:31:21 last year. He was diagnosed with diabetes as a high school cross country runner. But now, he uses his insulin pump to regulate his blood sugar so he can focus on a perfect run. Finish time: 3:38:18
  • Dave Thoen — Bloomington, Minnesota: Thoen developed diabetes which made running marathons seem impossible. He received an insulin pump that gives him the flexibility to lead the active lifestyle he enjoys. He ran in his 14th Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon this year. Finish time: 3:55:27
  • Doug and Angel Hansen — Costa Mesa, California: The Hansens are a father/daughter team who are pursuing their own special mission of completing 100 marathons together. Angel is 5 years old, and born with several birth defects and only a portion of her brain. After having numerous surgeries and a shunt placed in her head, her condition improved and she now rides in a special running stroller while Doug pushes her. Finish time: 3:45:07
  • Jason Woodard — Golden Valley, Minnesota: In 2003, Jason became ill with viral encephalitis, which resulted in uncontrolled seizures. In an effort to decrease his reliance on medications, he was implanted with a vagus nerve stimulator. Finish time: 5:38:07
  • Michelle Valancius — Vancouver, Canada: Michelle’s spine was so severely curved from scoliosis that it pushed rigidly against her heart and lungs, which could have proven fatal. A spinal operation placing rods and hooks in her spine corrected her condition, and now she is competing in “Ironman” competitions and marathons. Finish time: 5:43:42

Medtronic TC 10 Mile Participants

  • Brian Stephenson — Zeeland, Michigan: Stephenson has dystonia, a disease characterized by severe, sometimes painful muscle spasms, which limited this avid runner to short jogs. With the help of deep brain stimulation, he is now able to run again. Finish time: 1:21:49
  • Kailey Ross —  New Westminster, Canada: Ross is diagnosed with syncope, unexplained fainting that results from poor heart pumping function and was implanted with a pacemaker. She is now running 20 to 35 miles each week. Finish time: 1:31:42
  • David Watkins — Snohomish, Washington: Doctors found Watkins had a congenital defect in his aorta, compounded by hypertension and arrhythmia. David had surgery to replace his aorta and aortic valve. Finish time: 2:01:15
  • Laura Santurri — Chagrin Falls, Ohio: Santurri was diagnosed in 1997 with bladder control problems and quit running as a result. Her condition continued to worsen until her doctor implanted a neurostimulation device therapy to treat her condition and ease discomfort. Finish time: 2:01:18
  • Lori Camacho — Thomasboro, Illinois: In 1991, Camacho developed a chronic and painful neurological condition. With the help of a permanently implanted spinal cord stimulator, Lori got on a treadmill and walked her first steps on a journey that eventually led to her first half-marathon. Finish time: 2:24:56
  • Amy Lake — Coon Rapids, Minnesota: Lake experiences an irregular, fast heartbeat that sometimes reached 380 beats per minute and threatened her life. Physical activity came to a halt. Amy received an ICD, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator that protects her from a life-threatening arrhythmia. Finish time: 1:25:00
  • Pooja Lodha — Pune, India: Lodha has diabetes, yet her insulin pump allows her to continue running while managing her glucose levels. Finish time: 1:51:32

  • Eligible medical devices and disease conditions may vary.
  • Implantable devices are not for everyone, and all devices described on this site carry risks. You should consult with your physician about any questions or concerns you have related to your own health, and also about the risks and benefits associated with medical device therapy to know whether medical device therapy might be an option for you. You should consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. For more information, visit
  • These patient stories capture individual successful experiences. Individual results vary.