Cardiac Hill is a small feat for one runner who overcame cardiac failure

ATLANTA — The infamous Cardiac Hill is considered one of the toughest parts of the Peachtree Road Race, but running through the hospital district is also a motivating experience for both the runners and the patients cheering them on.

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“I’ll never forget those days that she would get up and get dressed and go running, and I couldn’t go with her,” said runner Frankie Defore.


For Defore, that runner was his sister. Two years ago, he was one of the patients at Piedmont Hospital.

“I was 35 years old, laying in a bed, and I was dying,” said Defore.

He was in the final stages heart failure. Doctors didn’t give him long to live. However, a life-changing surgery and a commitment to lifestyle changes turned that around.

Speaking on his time in the hospital, Defore said, “A lot of people don’t make it out of there. They go in with heart failure and come out in a box.”

In two years, he went from cardiac failure to Cardiac Hill.

“Now, everything I do is in service of other people, even my running,” said Defore. “I hope to serve as an inspiration.”

They may both be uphill battles, but Defore is proof that they are both survivable. It’s all about taking the first step — or in his case, run.

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