Published: February 1, 2010
LAKE WYNONAH - Ron Boris Jr. has faced the trials of getting a heart transplant.
Now he's taking on another kind of physical challenge.
He's joined Team Philadelphia to participate in swimming, basketball and track and field events at the National Kidney Foundation's 2010 Transplant Recipient Games in Madison, Wis., July 30 to Aug. 4.
Still recovering after the transplant at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center on April 25, 2009, Boris, 48, has been working out under the watchful eye of chiropractor Dr. Jack T. Dolbin, Pottsville.
"I'm getting back into the rigors of everything. They're working me within range, but they're not taking it easy on me either. They're doing everything they can to get me ready," said the Lake Wynonah resident, who is disabled and not working.
He and his family, including his wife, Danielle, and daughter, Nicki Davis, 22, of Pottsville, are raising funds and trying to find sponsors to help them pay for the air fare and lodging for the Wisconsin trip, estimated to cost more than $2,500. A special fundraiser is set for 5 to 8 p.m. Feb. 25 at Friendly's restaurant, Fairlane Village mall, Pottsville.
"When you come in to eat between 5 and 8 that night, Friendly's will donate a portion of the proceeds that night to Ron," Danielle said.
Born in Pottsville in 1961, Boris graduated from Pottsville Area High School in 1980. He ran in track and field and played football.
"I was a halfback and defensive nose guard. And I was on the first Eastern Conference title team that Pottsville had in '78," Boris said.
He worked as skilled laborer in the warehouse at the former Alcoa Inc., Cressona, from the early 1980s until 2003, when he was diagnosed with heart problems.
"I had a massive heart attack and it damaged the whole left side of my heart," Boris said.
In 2005, he said doctors told him he needed a heart transplant. His name was put on a list and he waited 4 1/2 years for a cataveric donor.
While recovering from surgery in April 2009, he said, representatives of the Gift of Life Donor Program, Philadelphia, told him about the transplant recipient games, held every two years. It piqued his interest.
"I took a while to think about it," he said. "I had to see how I was going to respond to the transplant. Then when the doctors cleared me and said everything was going good, I made up my mind."
On Dec. 12, he traveled to Valley Forge to meet Team Philadelphia.
The team is made up of more than 500 men, women and children from the transplant community of eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware that participates in the transplant recipient games.
"Basically I'm going to go out there and compete. But everything I'm going to do is in honor of my donor," Boris said.
He does not know his donor's identity. The Gift of Life Donor Program keeps the names of its donors and organ recipients confidential.
He said he started training for the games two weeks ago.
"The cardiologist at Hershey recently gave me the OK to get ready for this. For 4 1/2 years my muscles were shot. I couldn't do anything. Now, I'm trying to build everything little by little," he said.
Dolbin is guiding Boris through a strength and conditioning program using equipment at the Pottsville Sports and Rehabilitation Center, 2040 West End Ave. He also recently started swimming at Pottsville Area's D.H.H. Lengel Middle School Natatorium, under the supervision of longtime Pottsville boys' swim coach Ned Hampford.
"He's limited. He can't overdo it. He doesn't want to bulk up and be an athlete, but he doesn't want to go out to Madison and get hurt either," Danielle said.
He and Danielle will be flying to Madison with the team from Philadelphia on July 30.
Anyone interested in sponsoring or making donations to Boris can contact 739-2968 or 622-7607 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.