Still Wowing His Doctors


Steven Lindsey (bib #230) approaches the finish line during last year’s KY History Half Marathon to the cheers of onlookers.


In so many ways, Steven Lindsey is perfect for the Kentucky History Half Marathon. An active member of Elizabethtown’s Ancestral Trails Historical Society, he is a long-time historical reenactor who portrays 19th century Governor John L. Helm at events around the state. His wife, Lisa, joins him as Mrs. Helm. 

But that’s not what makes Lindsey—and his relationship with the Frankfort road race—special. Those who ran last year might remember him as the guy who participated in the inaugural Kentucky History Half Marathon just five months after undergoing a double lung transplant. 

For years, he had been suffering from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a disease characterized by scarring of the lungs that ultimately robs a patient of the ability to breathe. IPF is generally terminal and the only cure is a lung transplant, which Linsdey received in May of 2015.

When we saw Lindsey had signed up for Round Two of the Kentucky History Half Marathon, we thought it was a time to catch up.

Kentucky History Half Marathon (KYHHM): We hope the fact that you are signed up to participate in the race again means the new lungs are working out nicely and that you are still wowing your doctors.

Lindsey: I am doing really great and, yes, still wowing the doctors.

KYHHM: It has been just over 16 months since your transplant. Tell us about some of the things you’ve been doing over the past year. Are you back to work full-time?

Lindsey: It has been a busy year. I returned to full-time status at the University of Louisville on the Monday after the Kentucky History Half last year. Before the end of the year, I participated in a Color Run in Elizabethtown. On Feb. 6 of this year, I did the American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb. For this event, I climbed the stairs in the PNC Building in downtown Louisville to the 38th floor.

Since then, Lisa and I have participated in the Abraham Lincoln Elementary 5K, Throo the Zoo 5K, the Freeman Lake Trail series 5K, 8K and 10K and Legacy for Life 5K. We participated in the American Heart Association Heart Walk 5K in downtown Louisville last weekend.

Then I have the Kentucky History Half on Sept. 24, and the Elizabethtown Fall Classic Half on Oct. 1.

KYHHM: You participated in the inaugural Kentucky History Half Marathon just five months after your transplant operation. Did you enjoy the event?

Lindsey: Participating in the Kentucky History Half last year was challenging, but I finished the race in 3 hours and 27 minutes. I am hoping to do a little better this year. My goal is to finish in 3 hours, but that will be tough. Still, I very much enjoyed the race last year, and I am looking forward to participating this year. Stephanie, my daughter, and Patrick, her boyfriend, will be along for moral support, and Lisa will again be welcoming runners at the finish line as Mrs. Helm.

KYHHM: What else do you have in store for your new lungs? What are some of your other fitness goals?

Lindsey: Patrick participated and completed the Pike’s Peak Ascent Half a couple of weeks ago. I have been very inspired by his accomplishment. Another goal that I have set for myself is to qualify for that race. To do that, I must complete a half-marathon in less than 2 hours and 25 minutes. That translates into a pace of 11:30 per mile and since my best time so far has been 14:14 per mile, I have a long ways to go. Still, it would be so exciting to qualify for such a challenging race. Another goal that I have set for myself is to participate in a full marathon. My daughter has suggested that I should try one of the big ones—Boston, New York, etc. I don’t know about that; the qualifying standards are pretty tough.

KYHHM: Is your involvement with historical reenactments, and your overall interest in history, still an important part of your life?

Lindsey: Lisa and I continue to perform as Gov. and Mrs. John LaRue Helm, primarily in our local area. We have performed for the Ancestral Trails Historical Society and at Fort Duffield Civil War Historical Site. We attended the recreation of the Grand Ball for His Royal Highness Prince of Wales in the fall last year, then we attended A Christmas Past Ball at Colonial Williamsburg.

My interest in history remains as strong as ever, but I must confess that the health issues have demonstrated all too clearly that life is short and we have only so much time to do the things that are important to us. In that vein, Lisa and I are preparing to make our third sojourn to Alaska next summer. It is my intent to be north of the Arctic Circle for the Summer solstice in June. In August of next year, a total eclipse of the sun will pass across Kentucky and I intend to be very near to the point of maximum eclipse on the 17th.

KYHHM: Do you plan on returning to Frankfort in 2017 for the third annual Kentucky History Half Marathon?
Lindsey: I have every intention of continuing to participate in the Kentucky History Half for as long as I am able. Hopefully, that will be several more years.

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