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COVID, cancer survivor set to compete in Roanoke IRONMAN Sunday

Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 4:45 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - 32.5 million Americans have battled and beaten COVID-19 over the past 15 months.

But very few can say they’ve overcome the illness and then completed an IRONMAN race.

John Mormando hopes to capture that achievement this weekend.

“Life is short. I said let’s just do things,” said the 54-year-old New Jersey man.

He is set to compete in the Carilion Clinic IRONMAN 70.3 Virginia’s Blue Ridge triathlon Sunday.

It’ll be his second race of this type, but his first since beating COVID in March of 2020.

“Not being able to breathe is a scary thing,” said Mormando. “A lot of people get no symptoms, but I had a severe [case]. I had to go and get hospitalized.”

Mormando’s bout with COVID was not his first major medical challenge, either.

In 2018, he battled breast cancer stemming from his exposure to ground zero while working in New York City just days after 9/11.

“We went back to work six days after the towers came down and we worked there straight through. There was a lot of smoke and it was just horrible,” he recalled.

Mormando hopes the hurdles he’s cleared to get to this point will serve to inspire others.

This weekend, he hopes his only challenges will be along the 70.3-mile route he’s more than prepared to take down.

“My goal is to be a motivation for somebody else like me, who might have had a cancer scare or COVID, and said, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ Well, you can,” said Mormando. “I’m living proof, I’m just a regular guy.”

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