Lindenwood - Winter 2017 - Connecting to Alumni and Friends

NOT QUITTING IS A BIG THING FOR ME’ ARINGTON MAKES THE MOST OF NEW HEART by CHRIS DUGGAN When Anthony Arington (’00, ’06) started school at Lindenwood University, he was like any other active, athletic teenager. He ran, lifted weights, and worked out—hardly the type one envisions when thinking about heart transplant candidates. But, he was one. Now, five years after receiving a new heart, he is embracing his former active life in a big way, and he is giving back. When he was still in college, Arington said he was having trouble sleeping at first, and then breathing was becoming more difficult as well. Eventually, he went to the hospital, where they ran tests and discovered a heart condition. Just prior to his 21st birthday, he was diagnosed with a cardiomyopathy, an abnormality in the heart muscle that makes it harder for the heart to pump blood and leaves patients vulnerable to heart failure. “I had a good time at Lindenwood,” Arington said. “The first two years of school, I was very active. I never smoked or anything like that. I would never have expected to have something like this.” Arington graduated in 2000 with a bachelor’s in criminal justice and returned to get a master’s in criminal justice administration in 2006. That same year, his heart condition worsening, he had a defibrillator implanted to guard against heart failure. In 2011, that was replaced by a left ventricle assist device (or LVAD), a cumbersome piece of apparatus that pumps the heart for the patient. Six months later, in February of 2012, he underwent heart transplant surgery. A few weeks after the surgery, he participated in a 5K race at Lindenwood with his dog and running companion, Bailey. “I walked the whole thing, but I finished,” he said. “I felt like I was now able to go back to the things I liked to do.” For 15 years, Arington had lived with a heart that was gradually betraying him; he wanted to get out there again—and he did. He found out about a cross-state kayak race called the MR340, the longest nonstop kayak race in North America, which starts in Kansas City and ends in St. Charles after 340 miles on the Missouri River. He signed up. “You have 88 hours to finish,” Arington said. “They have a boat called the Reaper that goes at that pace, and if it catches you, you’re out.” Arington bought a Kayak in May 2013 and started working with it; he’d never kayaked before. “The first time I took it on the river was terrifying,” he said. “By race day (in August), I felt like I was ready.” About half of the boats didn’t finish the race, but Arington did, just ahead of the Reaper. “Not quitting is a big thing for me,” he said. Lindenwood University ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT 12 ‘ ‘ Photo by Cindy Hiles