Heart attack survivor finishes his race

Author: Kumasi Aaron, Reporter, weekend anchor, kaaron@wjxt.com
Matt Kinzig, Photojournalist, weekend assignment editor, mkinzig@wjxt.com
Nicholas Jones, Associate producer, njones@wjxt.com
Published On: Feb 09 2014 11:40:38 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 10 2014 06:59:43 AM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Stephen Michael was on Hendricks Avenue about to finish the 2013 Gate River Run, when he suffered a heart attack that put him out of the race and into the hospital.

On Sunday, surrounded by friends and people who helped save his life that day, Michael set off to finish the run he started nearly a year ago. 

Michael said one of the first things he was determined to do when he recovered was to get back out and finish the race.  So, 11 months later, he returned the spot in San Marco where he collapsed with his family and friends, to make that a reality.

It's even more meaningful to Michael because he's a streaker -- meaning he's run every Gate River Run since the race began. 

"Just to come and finish it (the race), remain a streaker and the gratefulness of these people and me being here," said Michael. 

He thanked the men who helped him. Firemen that were running near Michael when he had his heart attack were back by running by his side Sunday.

The firefighters who stepped in to save Michael's life say they were were just doing what they were trained to do. They never imagined a recovery like this.

As they listened to Jacksonville sheriff's officers explain the route they would take, Robert Stover with Jacksonville Fire-Rescue said he felt honored to be a part of Michael's big day.

"I never would have imagined that we'd be here again talking to him like this now and actually being able to finish the run with him," said Stover. "I'm glad that he invited us."

And as he completed this Gate River Run, Michael is training for the next one in March with a new perspective.

"The thing that I learned from this one is it's really about monitoring your health, and even at my age and there's middle age runners -- everybody make sure you get check ups and you never know," said Michael.