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Friday, March 20, 2015

Elementary Coach Still Making Big Strides After Heart Surgery

It’s no surprise to see dozens of students running laps at Annette Perry Elementary School after school on Mondays.

When Deidra Zschiesche started Annette Perry’s running club three years ago, she didn’t know what to expect. All she knew is that she loved running, and wanted to spread that love to her elementary school students.
Deidra Zschiesche coaching her running club.

The enthusiasm certainly caught on. The club has nearly 100 students who participate every week. That’s more than 25 percent of the total school population!

The P.E. teacher had been running all of her life, so it came as a big surprise when Zschiesche had a medical episode in 2013 and discovered, on Thanksgiving Day, that she had a tumor attached to her heart.

“It was something that the doctors said I probably had since birth,” said Zschiesche. “The tumor was making my heart work very hard just to breathe.”

A month later, the coach underwent surgery to remove the cardiac tumor. After eight weeks of recovery, Zschiesche laced up her running shoes and continued doing what she loved most. The surgery was so successful that Zschiesche ran the fastest half marathon of her life about nine weeks after her surgery.
Coach Zschiesche talking about her passion for running.

“It felt great,” said Zschiesche. “It was like I had a load off my chest.”

The students in the running club were happy to have their coach back. With her motivation, many of the kids also participate in local races.

“I love her as a coach,” said Mason Foreman, fourth grader at Annette Perry. “She’s helped me through a lot of things.”

“I’ve been running since I was in kindergarten here,” said Brianna Fosnaugh, second grader. “She’s the best P.E. teacher I’ve ever had.”

Zschiesche now has a different take on life and she hopes her story will inspire others to not waste a single second of life.

“Live life to the fullest,” said Zschiesche. “Do things that make you happy because life’s too short.”