The recovery story of the Kansas man chosen as NCSG male athlete of the year

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A Beloit, Kansas runner has been selected as the National Congress of States Games male athlete of the year.

He's also won Sunflower State Games male athlete of the year.

He's won the awards for his work in his community as a coach, and his story of recovery and perseverance.

Chad Lorenz can’t stay away from the thrill of the race. When 13 NEWS caught up with him he described his emotions on the starting block.

"Oh the heart starts racing, I mean it's pounding in your chest, I mean you can hear it in your ears, especially now that mine ticks," he said.

The tick he’s talking about comes from a mechanical valve surgically implanted in his heart, allowing his heart to keep pace with what he loves.

"Growing up as a kid I loved to sprint, I loved to go fast, you know push myself as hard as I could," he said.

Chad Lorenz suffers from a rare heart defect that almost kept him from racing.

"I was in junior-high when I was diagnosed with my heart condition," he said.

“It was devastating, I really thought that I was gonna grow up and be some athlete, you know that's what my dream was," he said.

Still - he kept running.

In 2015 Lorenz underwent open heart surgery, replacing part of his aorta, and giving him the mechanical valve. The surgery was meant to correct his congenital heart condition.

His wife Laura Lorenz detailed the recovery process.

"And life basically got back to normal and everything was great again,” she said.

Just two years later Chad suffered a heart attack while running on the side of a road.

“After his heart attack, that was scary," she said.

That heart attack was a major event doctors call a "widowmaker."

He recovered again and continued running.

"He is going to continue to do those things because he wants to prove that he' still alive and he loves doing it and it's not going to slow him down,” Laura said.

“It's not going to stop him it's not going to scare him."

Chad says he won’t quit, “I hope to continue running, and competing, and sharing my story with other people not to ever give up, there's always an opportunity out there you just have to go for it."

On top of all that Chad Lorenz has continued as a coach, sharing his perseverance and spirit with the next generation of athletes.