Don Halke ran with a message for those behind him in the half marathon.
In addition to the fluffy pink and white bunny ears atop his head, Halke had a pink shirt that read on the back: “1 heart attack, 2 stents, 4 bypasses, 1 pacemaker. So why are you behind me?”
He has had all of those medical episodes and procedures since the heart attack in 2009, with the most recent being the installation of a pacemaker in February 2016. It has all earned Halke the nickname Cardiac Cripple.
A couple friends presented him with the shirt last year. “They were trying to inspire me to get back to running,” said Halke, 57, of Newport, Pa. “When they first put the pacemaker in I couldn’t even walk. It took a lot of adjusting to get to where I could run.”
Halke has run 111 full marathons around the world, including three in Myrtle Beach, the most recent two years ago. He used to be more competitive in races. Now he’s more about the bunny ears.
“I like to have fun when I’m running,” Halke said. “I’m not fast anymore. Post heart attack changed everything. Now I’m grateful to get out to run.
“I thought the bunny ears would match with the pink shirt and make people laugh. We try to be inspirational. You try to inspire people to keep going.”
For Myrtle Beach Marathon results, click here.