MEET OUR GLOBAL CHAMPIONS 10 MILE RUNNERS
Sean, 49, has a coronary artery stent to manage heart disease.
Sean Doyle has always been an avid runner, taking part in local events and weekly group 5K runs. In 2013, during one of his regular runs, he collapsed from a massive heart attack that left him with a six percent chance of survival. Other runners administered CPR until Sean was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where he had a second heart attack and received a coronary stent.
Following his hospitalization, Sean made steady improvements toward regaining his running life, including going on training runs with his club. Today, he rigorously follows his doctors’ advice and limits races to distances of less than a half marathon. He also became part of Cardiac Athletes, the world’s largest online community for athletic heart patients, and strives to do good through running.
“Running is my life. In the past year, as a Cardiac Athlete, I’ve run 2,000 miles to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation and have campaigned to save the hospital that saved my life.” Sean hopes his story will educate others on the dangers of heart disease and help runners with heart issues find a new life.
VASTRA GOTALANDS IAN, SWEDEN
Karin, 41, has a pacemaker to manage heart disease.
Ask Karin Knauer about the role running plays in her life and she has a ready answer. “It means everything to me — except for my two girls and my husband!”
Karin completed 18 half marathons and played soccer, handball, floorball, and other sports. Then, during a half marathon in 2011, she collapsed and was taken away by ambulance as her family watched. She was diagnosed with heart disease and received a pacemaker.
Since then, Karin enjoys running even more and runs frequently with her friends. “Before I was sick, I never allowed myself to run with friends at a ‘chat rate.’ These days, I love every step I take.”
Karin believe it’s important to spread the word that “old” people aren’t the only ones who receive pacemakers. As a staff physiotherapist in a clinic, she works with people of all ages and regularly shares her story. She wants the world to know it’s possible to be active when you have heart disease.
Torie, 27, has a medical device to help manage the symptoms of gastroparesis, a condition that affects the stomach muscles.
After being diagnosed with gastroparesis at age 19, Victoria (Torie) Miele managed her disease with medications. But in her senior year of college, something changed. She began experiencing severe pain, constant nausea, and difficulty keeping food down — to the point of losing more than 50 pounds.
After struggling with gastroparesis and lacking success with medication for three years, Torie’s gastroenterologist got approval to treat Torie with a gastric electric stimulator in 2012. A week after her surgery, Torie graduated from college and could eat for the first time in months. Now she runs at least twice a week, saying it keeps her “chasing goals.” She also regularly connects with other gastroparesis patients, gives speeches to share her experience, and holds events to raise money for research.
“I strive to be an advocate not only for those with gastroparesis, but for all people going through hardship. I believe it is important to stay positive despite your difficulties and to follow your dreams, no matter what the barriers.” Torie hopes her advocacy and story will help make gastroparesis a household word, ensuring that others with the disease know they’re not alone.
CHERRY HILL, NEW JERSEY
Vincent, 40, has an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring system to manage type 1 diabetes.
When Vincent Myers began running five years ago, he could barely make it to the end of the block, which was two houses down. He now runs more than 30 miles a week and regularly competes in 5Ks, triathlons, and marathons.
“When I lace up those shoes and hit the pavement, I feel I’m invincible. I escape the everyday struggle of blood glucose control and find peace in knowing I’m taking care of myself.”
It’s a far cry from the sense of hopelessness Vincent experienced when he was initially diagnosed. “I wish 10-plus years ago, I had a support system to help me cope with what I thought was a life sentence. Now I want to be that support system to help others realize type 1 diabetes isn’t the end — it’s just the beginning.”
An elementary school principal, Vincent regularly tells his students and local community that, with the right mindset, anything is possible. “No one should ever let something hold them back from reaching their goals.”
STEFY MARLIEN ALFRIEN ROMPAS
NORTH SULAWESI, INDONESIA
Stefy, 45, received a deep brain stimulation (DBS) device to help treat symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Before receiving her DBS device in 2006, Stefy Marlien Alfrien Rompas experienced debilitating tremors and depression due to Parkinson’s disease. Her symptoms were so severe that she was unable to pursue one of her biggest passions, running, which left her feeling like a prisoner to her disease.
After the DBS surgery, Stefy’s life changed. She became active in her church, participates in charity events like teaching reading and writing in English, and conducts a morning exercise session at her parish. She’s also thrilled to be running again. “I feel reborn and alive. I run regularly and can now exercise with confidence and happiness.”
Stefy actively shares her experience to let others with health issues know life can get better. “So many people feel desperate and hopeless. They need someone to show them that hope exists and the disease wall can be broken.”
Julia, 29, has an insulin pump to manage type 1 diabetes.
When Julia Snigorska was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, she was filled with grief and resentment. She struggled to get out of bed in the morning and accept her new reality. She felt “different” and punished by her diagnosis, especially because she was “so young, so normal, and fit and healthy.”
Life took a positive turn when Julia transitioned from insulin injections to an insulin pump and began running several times a week. Running is now the “path of her life,” helping her overcome her fears. “I can’t imagine my life without a few trainings a week. Thanks to running, I’ve realized the simplest truth in the world — no pain, no gain.” Julia’s insulin pump helps keep sugar levels stable and insulin doses well balanced.
“I refuse to be a victim of my disease and defeated by it,” says Julia. “I have diabetes, but I also have dreams. With every single step, I’m closer to leading a normal life, which is my main goal.”
Julia hopes to help others with type 1 diabetes believe they can lead a normal life despite their disease.
WAKE FOREST, NORTH CAROLINA
Tiffany, 39, has an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to manage long QT syndrome.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27, running became a way for Tiffany Sorber to feel a sense of control over what felt like a failure of her body. Little did she know that just two years later, running would help her face another health challenge — cardiac arrest and a diagnosis of long QT syndrome.
At first, Tiffany felt like her body was turning against her again. But this time, she had a constant companion to help her through it — an ICD she named Kevin, in honor of her electrophysiologist.
“Kevin allowed me to continue my active lifestyle. Kevin kept me in the game.”
Since receiving her ICD, Tiffany has finished two half marathons and set her sights on finishing a full marathon. She is deeply committed to sharing her story and wants people to know that “life isn’t about the cards you’re dealt but how you play those cards.”
Rob, 47, has four stents to manage heart disease.
Ever since Rob Steinberg can remember, he’s been running — from backyard games and high school track to 5Ks, 10Ks, and Ironman triathlons. Running also saved his life.
Over his many years of running, Rob’s heart built up collateral arteries that helped keep him alive when he suffered a string of heart attacks at age 45. He received four stents.
Rob’s medical team told him he’d never race again. But after going through rehab and working with a sports cardiologist, Rob got the green light to race. He also created the HeartStrong Foundation, which helps educate people about heart disease and raises funds to help heart attack survivors pay for medical costs.
“I’m here today, striving to share my story and inspire other heart attack survivors to lead active, healthy lifestyles.” It’s Rob’s way of leaving a legacy honoring the incredible medical professionals and medical technology that saved his life. “Without this technology, I would not be here today.”
JOSE LUIS MORALES URBINA
ESTADO DE MEXICO, MEXICO
Jose, 45, has an insulin pump to manage type 1 diabetes.
Jose Luis Morales Urbina has lived with type 1 diabetes since he was a child, and relied on traditional insulin injections for most of that time. But in 2004, he experienced complications, including diabetes retinopathy, neuropathy and dramatic weight loss. In 2007, Jose had an insulin pump implanted.
He regained the weight he’d lost and returned to running, the sport he loves. “Exercise is the key to having a better life. I’ve never been a fast runner, but I always reach my goals.”
An active advocate for diabetes awareness, Jose freely shares his life story, the importance of education, and the benefits of medical technology in managing the disease. He also works with nonprofit organizations to help type 1 diabetes patients, especially kids, face the challenges of diabetes and adopt healthy behaviors.
CHENGDU CITY, CHINA
Xin, 22, has a pacemaker to manage heart disease.
After suffering cardiac arrest in 2013, Xin Xiong received a pacemaker, which allows him to “live like normal people.” Then he turned to running to find peace and happiness within. In 2016, he participated in the Chengdu WCH & WHN Marathon and finished the half marathon in 2 hours, 10 minutes.
“What I’ve learned from running is that, like living, there will be good miles and bad miles. The key is a positive attitude.”
Xin believes helping others makes his life meaningful and wants people to know that heart disease didn’t stop him “from pursuing a colorful life.” In addition to running and studying to be a medical professional, he volunteers as a tour guide at a local museum, is a Rh-negative blood donor, plays on a football team, and sings in a chorus. As Xin says, “Don’t lose hope and you will find that life is full of possibilities.”
Read about the Global Champion Marathon Runners.