Athlete races in Ironman 70.3 to honor organ donor

Posted at 7:03 PM, Oct 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-28 20:03:42-04

More than 13,000 people raced over to Waco this weekend for the city's first ever Ironman 70.3 triathlon. 

The swimming portion of the event was canceled due to the condition of the Brazos River, but that didn't stop athletes from powering through the rest of the course. 

Jeff Walburn, 55, spent nine months training to honor the young donor who saved his life. 

"His name is John. He was 15 when he passed," Walburn said. "I've met the family. We keep in touch periodically and it's just a great gift."

Doctors found out Walburn's liver was failing while they were performing his gallbladder surgery in 2007.

Since receiving his transplant, Walburn dedicates each one of his competitions to “Second Chance Johnny".

"I started working out and eating healthier, kind of give my donor some honor," Walburn said. "One thing led to another and here I am doing Ironmans now."

Walburn joined 3,000 athletes from 45 different states for Ironman 70.3 in Waco.

He finished the race in 6 hours and 15 minutes.

"I could've done better. I finished, but I could've done better," Walburn said.

But it won't be long until Walburn is back at it running for two.

"I'm a very blessed man," Walburn said. "I'm blessed to be here and I'm blessed to be doing this."

According to Donate Life America, there are 125,000 waiting for life-saving organ transplants. Another person is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes.

To become a donor, click here.  

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