The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

June 25, 2013

A Don McCormack column: 'I've been given a gift'

One month ago tomorrow, Ron Cramer lay down dead on an Ashtabula street. Now, he vows to live each and every day to its fullest

None of us needs to have death come knocking on our door to appreciate what Ron Cramer has been through the past month.

After all, to appreciate life, one only needs to be alive.

And for 59-year-old Ron Cramer, an admitted man of God as Sunday School Superintendent, teacher of men’s classes on Sundays and the worship leader for the 11 a.m. service at the Jefferson United Methodist Church, he knows he received the ultimate gift last month.

“I’ve been given a gift by God... and I know it,” he said.

For, one month ago tomorrow, Ron Cramer was dead.

The Day

It was May 27, Memorial Day, and Ron journeyed north. “I went to the harbor to do the Memorial Day 5K,” he said. “I walk and run. I definitely don’t run the whole thing.”

Having taken up running about a year ago because he “wanted to drop some weight and get myself in better shape,” it seemed like a normal race for him.

It didn’t take long, though, for “normal” to be replaced by “uh-oh.”

“Almost a mile into the race, I felt kind of light-headed, so I stopped to catch my breath and sit for about 15 seconds or so,” Ron said. “Then, I got back into it.

“I remember starting up again, then... nothing. I remember nothing. Not a thing.”

Only because the actions of alert, willing-to-take-action people on hand to watch the race, rescue personnel and, yes, perhaps a higher power, is he able to tell his tale.

“I’m told I had passed out and that my heart had stopped,” Ron said. “I was told I wasn’t breathing.

“I was dead.”

Fate comes knocking

For all intents and purposes, Ron Cramer’s life ended that day at age 59, laying on the pavement on Walnut Boulevard.

Fortunately, a gentleman named Bartolomeo Agiannatassio was riding his bicycle down the road and came to his rescue.

“He performed chest compressions on me for what I’m told was 15 for 20 minutes,” he said. “I hear others volunteered to take over for him, but he wouldn’t have any of that, saying, ‘No, I’m on it. I’m staying with him.’”

As if more evidence of interaction by a higher power came into play, there’s this:

Bartolomeo Agiannatassio isn’t your normal Good Samaritan, or guardian angel. His official title is “Dr. Bartolomeo Agiannatassio” — he’s a cardiologist for the Cleveland Clinic.

“How amazing is that?!” Ron said. “I have a heart attack and the gentleman who saves me isn’t just a good guy, he’s a cardiologist for one of the best hospitals in the world.

“It’s incredible, really.”

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