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  • Kent Casson

Rodino back at it after transplant

John Rodino shown with his wife, Lynn, at the Chenoa 5K on Saturday morning.

There was a time when John Rodino couldn’t even walk his dog a half block down the road before needing to stop. Now, he’s running long distances after receiving a heart transplant more than a year ago.

The Pontiac resident participated in Saturday’s Chenoa 5K run and walk during the Red Carpet Corridor Festival. The longtime fireman was 39 when he had a heart attack after returning from a five-mile run. That is when his fight to survive began.

“I used to run every day and took care of myself,” Rodino recalled.

After 24 stints and a double bypass surgery in Springfield, he was told there was pretty much nothing more that could be done. Rodino’s doctor called University of Chicago which performed several tests that indicated his heart was pumping too well to receive a transplant. He still had all of the blockages and had four heart attacks in that time.

“My last one was so bad that when (my wife) got home from work, she looked at me and said what’s going on.”

Rodino then went back to Chicago where he was going to receive an angioplasty for another stint and they pulled out right away, leading Rodino to believe something was wrong. He was told he needed a balloon pump for a heart transplant.

“My heart was down to 10 percent so they put a heart pump in me and I couldn’t leave the hospital,” explained Rodino.

He was officially put on the heart transplant waiting list on a Saturday and by Monday received the call that a heart was available. Rodino received the new heart the very next day. Everything has gone well since he got out of surgery, all biopsies have been great with no rejections.

“That’s how God works,” said Rodino. “It feels so good to be able to run again. I never thought I’d be able to.”

Rodino, who will turn 60 at the end of the month, considers himself very blessed and plans to “keep going.” He gets up early every morning to run before work. His wife, Lynn, notes how all of their prayers were answered.

“It took a long time but once it all started, it went smoothly,” she said.

The Chenoa Run Club organized Saturday’s 5K and it was the first time they used this particular route since a few years ago when Dylan Cerda and Chenoa Fitness Center organized the run.

“We are excited about this,” Chenoa Run Club member Rachel Kridner said of the event.

Since it wasn’t the group’s every Friday run route, Kridner was a tad nervous over mud puddles and pot holes but looked forward to getting a little exercise on a beautiful sunny spring day. The run club meets every Friday morning at Crossroads Café.

“We’ve been going about two or two and a half miles,” added Kridner.

They went from a run club to a walk with coffee club but still like the title.

“We do all run at different times during the week.”

Proceeds from Saturday’s 5K went back to the Chenoa Red Carpet Corridor celebration so more advertising and publicity can be done for Route 66 in town.

John Rodino finishes the Chenoa 5K during the Red Carpet Corridor Festival on Saturday.

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