Not Just Any Half Marathon

I have a friend who has had double lung transplant surgery.  To call him a best friend would be no understatement. 

He was recently featured on a Houston news broadcast, the same town in which he had his surgery, for successfully running a half marathon.  To call this friend an inspiration would be no understatement either.

You guys know him as the Don Calvino.  To tell you stories of the things he and I have seen, or the places he and I have been, would require an entirely different website altogether… and that’s just the stuff we remember.  There’s plenty more we don’t.

Many moons ago, Calvino was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis.  Upon hearing the news of said diagnosis, we all asked the same question.  What the hell is that?  As his lungs started failing him, we asked a more important question.  Is it fatal?

The experts agreed.  Calvino would need a lung transplant.  In fact, he would need both lungs transplanted.  I remember the weeks and months of waiting lists, then visiting him in the hospital.  It was not a friendly sight.

But Calvino’s time on this planet was not done.  He would not have it.

Calvino’s many trips to Houston Methodist ended up in successful surgeries.  His latest trip to Houston ended with a successful half marathon.  You heard me correctly.  There are inspirational stories of will and determination, and then there are people in your life, friends like the Don Calvino, who serve as a daily reminder that anything is possible.

Calvino’s latest return to Houston was featured in the local news, as it should be, for not only is his story courageous he has also never met a camera he didn’t like.

“My disease was so progressed that one lung simply would not do it.  It would have to be a double lung.” 

He went on.  “Houston is always going to have a special place in my heart.  It’s where I got my second chance at life.  I wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate it here and see if I could accomplish what I’ve been training to do.”

I can’t imagine running down the block, never mind running a half marathon, never mind running a half marathon on borrowed lungs.  That sort of character and determination is saved for angels like the Donny C.

Never one to brag or boast or share in the nightmares of his rehabilitation, Calvino sent us the article only once he had completed the race.  He’s the kind of friend who never wants to burden you with his worry but is always there to shoulder yours, which is the very definition of best friend.

To say I’m proud of him only minimizes how I feel and how all those he’s encountered along the way have felt about him as well.  He is truly something else.

Here’s one final story that best exemplifies the man’s character.

Years ago, we sat at the Winter Park P.F. Chang’s bar over dinner and wine as we had countless times before.  This time, however, was different.  I was going through some heavy work stuff and having relationship issues as well.  My head and heart were not in a good place.  He sat there, listened, offered advice and was my shoulder as best he could.  All the while I whined about my drama, Calvino had been diagnosed with this potentially fatal illness… and didn’t say a word.  He refused to burden me with his story while I burdened him with mine.  The man was hurting inside, his body was physically beginning to deteriorate but his heart was far stronger than any failing lungs.  He was there for me in a way I could spend a lifetime returning.  I’ll never forget that meal for it, along with so much other silliness over the years, has defined our friendship.

My dearest Mr. Calvin Luke Henry, you are unquestionably and indubitably, the man.  Your strength gives me strength.  You are an inspiration to all those who cross your path.  I know your folks would be proud.  Until we meet again, sir, at the next weigh-in.  Shoes off, of course.

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4 Replies to “Not Just Any Half Marathon”

  1. Your brother by another mother. Yes, I love him too … and am so grateful he is in our lives. Congrats dearest Don Calvino… on yet another amazing accomplishment! We cherish you and are ecstatic over your good health & fantastic recovery. Your Florida family hopes you’ll come spend time with us again soon please! Congratulations dear man… we love you!

    Great read SC.

  2. Donnie C, or as I refer to him as…”THE Keynote Speaker” is truly one of the best humans I have ever had the honor to meet. Incredibly thankful for his place in your life, and now mine. Looking forward to our next Waffle House outing, minus SC being roofied.

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