Man overcomes almost dying from COVID and runs 5K a year later

Man Overcomes COVID-19 Runs 5K A Year Later
Published: Dec. 4, 2022 at 10:14 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - For many runners, just finishing a race is difficult. But for one local resident, reaching the finish line seemed almost impossible a year ago.

“There was so much I didn’t think I would ever do, and I made a promise to be better every day,” Neil West, a COVID survivor, said.

14 months ago, West was battling COVID-19. After more than two weeks on a ventilator, he faced a long road to recovery.

“Life started a brand-new chapter. When you wake up and the first thing they tell you is that you cannot eat, you can’t drink. We have to teach you how to walk. In your head, you are thinking ‘what do you mean? I just walked in here yesterday. What do you mean? You can’t tell me that,’” West said.

West knew he had a rough journey ahead. But he wasn’t going to let anything stop him.

“We took it from one day to the next. We set goals. To have people like your wife or your kids to push you to get better every day,” West said.

His daughter Alyssa said she knew the key to his recovery was to get him exercising. So she pushed him.

“When he got home, I was very adamant like we have to get you healthy again and having the background I do in exercise science I was like you have to do cardio and you have to weight train,” Alyssa Parten, West’s daughter, said.

Alyssa created a routine for him to follow, but when he wasn’t training as often as she would’ve liked, she got an idea.

She set a goal for him and signed him up for a 5K.

“3 days a week for 11 weeks I had to send them a text message every morning when I started, I would text them when I was done. My wife would say ‘hey you got to run tomorrow, you got to get up and run today’ and we managed not to miss one day through the practice for 11 weeks,” West said.

All of that practice paid off Saturday, with his daughter running by his side, across the finish line in Pier Park.

“I was like ‘daddy I want you to sprint to that finish line’ and to see him take off like that and show that little bit of extra energy going into that finish line... it was just a moment I’ll never forget. I hope he doesn’t either,” Parten, said.

“The first time they told me to run I had to run for a minute and a half, and I about died. And I said three miles there is just no way. To be able to actually complete that task with witnesses other than just normally practicing it felt good to accomplish that,” West said.

Alyssa said her dad’s story has inspired many healthcare workers that there is hope for recovery.

If you are facing the same battle, there is hope. All you have to do is set a goal and accomplish it no matter how big or small.

“I don’t care how big or what this mountain is like, just trust in yourself and trust in the people backing you up and make it happen. And you can do things. Honestly running a 5k 14 months ago when it took 3 people to stand me up. That is a testimony that you can if you want to,” West said.