Fast food and a sedentary lifestyle had made Doylestown resident Derek Fitzgerald so doughy, he had trouble buttoning his button-down business shirts, reports Rita Giordano in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
A diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma — followed by cardiac distress — changed all that.
Fitzgerald spent seven years waiting for a new heart. One came in the nick of time.
“I was just grateful to be alive,” Fitzgerald said. “I wanted to do everything I could to find a way to give back, to earn what I’d been given.”
In his newfound life, Fitzgerald devoted himself fully to diet and exercise. Eight months post-surgery, he ran his first 5K. Later that year, it was a half-marathon. By 2018, he completed a triathlon.
Now, Fitzgerald, as a motivational speaker, sparks passion for health in others.
“My goal is to help people see what physical activity can do for their lives,” said Fitzgerald. “It’s not about doing an Ironman. It’s about getting outside and enjoying life. Life isn’t all about work and making money.”
Fitzgerald’s next feat? A 24-hour ride on his Peleton, raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
More on Fitzgerald’s inspiring physical transformation and generous spirit is in The Philadelphia Inquirer.