Dan Jongeling: You saved my life | SteamboatToday.com

Dan Jongeling: You saved my life

— I cannot express all the gratitude I have for the wonderful people of Steamboat Springs who helped me through this incident (“Quick response saves life,” June 6 Steamboat Today). We had received many of the details from Rob Powers, the race announcer my wife had met at an earlier race, so we were aware of most of what had happened as was reported in the June 6 story.

I was touched – OK, I confess that I literally was moved to tears – to hear of the two soldiers who were themselves almost to the finish line and in full pack gear, who stopped to render the very first assistance. Thank you to the writers who pointed that out.

And thank you to the EMTs who literally saved my life right then and there – Chuck Cerasoli and Joe Oakland. Gentlemen, I’ve never had the opportunity to thank someone for saving my life before, and the words fail me, but “thank you” for the work you do and the work you did that day. I know that not every incident turns out so favorably, and believe me, I am glad to be one of the happier ones.

I would like to explain that my wife made the perfect choice when she chose to simply run in the balance of her race before tracking me down at the hospital. She is an accomplished marathoner, and I am her support crew. Her running is not only her passion, but our passion together. I had driven us some 7 1/2 hours the day before to get us to Steamboat Springs, and I knew that she would have to drive herself home that day without me.

All in all, it was easy to tell that things were going to get difficult from that point on. The officials notified her that I was in good hands and in good spirits when they finally located her on the course. Frankly, her finishing the race was about the only good thing that happened that day for either of us, and I would have been very disappointed if she’d felt the need to abandon the run just to spend an additional 20 minutes or so of time with me in the ER.

My cardiac surgeon, himself a marathoner, sent me a message about 10 p.m. the day of my heart bypass surgery, as I was going in and out of consciousness.

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“Congratulations, you’ve finished this race,” he wrote, referring to the surgery ordeal. He thinks I’ll be jogging again in six weeks, not six months, and my wife and I are looking forward to returning next year so I can complete the 10K.

Again, thank you to all involved in my recovery, and to Zach Fridell and the newspaper for following up on the story and giving me the opportunity to express my views and my appreciation. I met so many fine people during the brief time I was there, and I look forward to coming back in a better situation.

Dan Jongeling

Rapid City, S.D.