What would it take for you to run one marathon? How about 25?
For Randy Fleet, it was almost dying of kidney failure at age 37. Then came a life-saving transplant at Sharp Memorial Hospital.
Lying in his hospital bed, Fleet decided to change his life. His doctor said the new kidney could last up to 20 years, so Fleet wrote a “bucket list” of 20 things to accomplish before then. First was climbing Mt. Whitney, which he completed in 2010, eight months after his surgery. The next day, he bought a pair of running shoes and began tackling the second item — running a marathon.
Fleet, who rarely exercised before his transplant, trained slowly. He ran his first race, the Carlsbad Half Marathon, in 2011, followed by his first full marathon in Seattle on the third anniversary of his transplant.
To date, Fleet has completed 25 full marathons and 50 half marathons, a milestone he achieved at the 2016 America’s Finest City Half Marathon.
“I just fell in love with running,” says Fleet, now 43. “I fell in love with the challenge, with the journey, with how running made me feel. Looking back at how far I’ve come, I’m just so grateful to be here.”
In 2009, Fleet went to see his doctor after experiencing flu-like symptoms. Blood tests revealed he was suffering from a chronic kidney disease that left his kidney function at only 8 percent. He spent the next nine months on dialysis before his brother was cleared to donate one of his kidneys to him.
Besides his love for the sport, Fleet runs to help raise awareness of organ donation and to inspire others to sign up with the national organ donor registry through www.donatelifecalifornia.org.
Fleet’s close friend, Melissa Cappuccilli, is alive today because someone made that choice. Cappuccilli, who presented Fleet with a special plaque marking his 50th half marathon, received a heart transplant at Sharp Memorial in 2013.
“Randy is such an inspiration,” says Cappuccilli, who’s run four half marathons since her transplant. “He is the epitome of what the gift of life is all about.”