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Tri-City Medical Center Helps Patients Become Runners

From left to right: Melissa Cappuccilli, Tina Knight and Paul Carey at the Tri-City Medical Center, Aug. 12, 2015.
Dwane Brown
From left to right: Melissa Cappuccilli, Tina Knight and Paul Carey at the Tri-City Medical Center, Aug. 12, 2015.
Tri-City Medical Center Helps Patients Become Runners

Each year, the Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside trains 13 patients into becoming runners. They've been dubbed "The Lucky 13."

The participants — who have overcome cancer, addiction, eating disorders, amputation, Parkinsons, stroke/heart attack, and even a lightning strike — are trained to run the Carlsbad Half Marathon in January.

This year though, two participants chose to complete the Triple Crown, a series of three half marathons in San Diego County.

Melissa Cappuccilli, who received a heart transplant nearly two years ago, said she couldn't walk when she started the running program.

"It had gotten to the point where walking between five to 10 feet, I would stop," Cappuccilli said. "I'd be short of breath, my lips would be blue, I'd be shaking. I was literally right on the verge of passing out."

Tina Knight, Cappuccilli's running partner, lost her toes because of a blood infection, which led to organ failure.

"I was in a coma for eight days," Knight said. "They told me my kidneys would never function again."

Despite the obstacles, both patients — now runners — have completed two marathons. They'll complete America’s Finest City Half Marathon on Sunday.

"I'm living life for me and for everyone around me," Cappuccilli said.