Runner donates kidney to Homewood coach, giving new chance at life

Mike Blake (left) will donate a kidney to his running coach Rich Matula (right) on Jan. 9, 2018. Both men are longtime members of the Tinley Track and Trail running club. (Gary Middendorf / Daily Southtown)
It's hard to top the gift Rich Matula soon will be receiving from his friend, Mike Blake.

"It's humbling," Matula said. "It's an amazing sacrifice."

On Jan. 9, Blake, an accountant from New Lenox, will donate a kidney to Matula, a marketing manager from Homewood.

The donation will not only enable Matula, who was born with polycystic kidney disease, to avoid having to go on dialysis, it should enable him to continue his lifelong pursuit of running.

Maybe, Matula joked, he might even be able to "beat Mike in a race."

Matula, who is married and has a 5-year-old son and 20-year-old stepdaughter, has been coach for the Tinley Track and Trail running club for 15 years.

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