National News

Man overcomes obstacles in hopes of following in father's footsteps

Posted February 7, 2018 1:17 p.m. EST

— A young Moorhead man is tackling a new chapter in his life, after two open heart operations dashed his dreams of becoming a firefighter like his dad.

28-year old Luke Stetz was attending firefighter school, when doctors gave him the news.

His career plans have changed, but his attitude has not.

Luke Stetz is in the best shape of his life, but months ago, following open heart surgery, the walk into Sanford Cardiac Rehab seemed daunting.

"I could not climb stairs, I remember arriving here and looking at the stairs and going to the elevator because I could not climb them," said Stetz.

Luke remembers the night, his life changed.

"I woke up and my resting heart rate was 160 and it was not natural," said Stetz.

A trip to the ER would reveal a faulty heart valve and concerning heart rhythm issue.

He would recover from surgery, go through rehab, only to have the new valve fail, and get replaced.

On blood thinners for life, it shot down Luke's plans of becoming a firefighter, like his dad.

"Everything happens for a reason, and it is what I wanted to do, but it was not meant for me," said Stetz.

Luke's dad, Dan Stetz, a longtime Fargo firefighter, died from a heart attack while hunting; the grief is still great for the family, but lessons learned from setbacks and loss.

"I am such a firm believer in keeping spirits high and keeping the glass half full kind of guy," said Stetz.

Those who worked with Luke in cardiac rehab, impressed with his perseverance.

"Luke was a fantastic patient, his energy and enthusiasm and just spirit to get back to where he wants to be, sure made our job so much easier," said Brad Hintermeyer, Cardiac Rehab Manager - Sanford.

Months of open heart surgery, Luke is training for the Fargo Marathon.

His eyes set on the 10K, maybe the half; running a race, with a new purpose.

Doctors thought Luke would need a pacemaker, but because he worked so hard at rehab, his heart tests reveal there is no need for one now.