— Gene Shimandle (@ShimandleGene) April 29, 2018
Twenty-eight days ago, 62-year-old Gene Shimandle began his journey of walking from Cleveland Clinic all the way to the White House in honor of the one-year anniversary of his successful heart transplant. After traveling 357 miles by foot, Shimandle arrived into Lafayette Park late yesterday morning, walking stick in hand.
Shimandle was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure in 2005, after years of working as a paramedic and as a professor at Case Western Reserve University Medical School for 19 years where he taught advanced cardiac life support to the third year medical students. According to the Cleveland Clinic, Shimandle taught CPR to nearly 65,000 people over the course of his career.
The walk served to celebrate Shimandle's new lease on life, to raise awareness for organ donation and was also in honor of Shimandle's donor, 20-year-old Cody Stebel who passed away in a car accident in 2017. Shimandle told WUSA9 Cody’s organ donation also saved eight other lives. Last November, Shimandle ran the Aurora Turkey Trot and met Stebel's family.
Shimandle walked through rain, sleet, and snow to complete his journey. Now that he's arrived, he says he plans on meeting both Ohio Senators and a representative from the Smithsonian in the hopes of having a monument built in the Nation’s Capital to honor those transplant donors. Additionally, he wants them to sign a flag (attached to his walking stick), which he plans to present to his donor family when he returns to Ohio.
As Shimandle told WUSA9, he's already met more than 400 people along his journey, all of whom signed the flag.