A Milestone member shares how he became and continues to be a walking miracle
By Rachel Porter
Photos by Kathryn Harrington
Kirk Menefee, a member of Milestone Wellness Center, understands the power of living a healthy lifestyle firsthand. In 2016, Menefee was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, a severe and incurable lung disease. Through organ donations, he was able to have a double lung transplant in 2019. We spoke with Menefee to talk about his health journey and how Milestone has played a role in his recovery.
When did you first get into fitness?
My father died when I was 27-years-old of a sudden heart attack at the age of 57. I decided then to change my lifestyle and get into cardiovascular fitness. I am a marathoner, golfer and long-distance swimmer. I joined Milestone in 2008.
How has Milestone been a part of your life and supported you throughout your transplant experience?
Milestone is a spectacular facility with all the bells and whistles, but the main thing that intrigued me about it at first was the pool. However, I cannot go without saying something about my two fabulous trainers, Alison Cardoza and Miranda Mercke. Without both of them, I would not be where I am today.
What was it like working out with new lungs for the first time at Milestone?
The first time I returned to Milestone was on Oct. 2, 2020. A little more than two years since I had been in the water and it was fantastic! I remember approaching the pool and being very apprehensive about my lungs. I pushed off the wall and stroked slowly. I was waiting for the fatigue and felt nothing. So I picked up the pace, and by the third lap, I knew my donor had given me something special. I cried as I swam to the end of the lane and started screaming. That day I did one mile, 142 lengths of the pool, without stopping.
What are some of your future health goals?
Next year, I am going to San Diego to compete in the Transplant Games of America in swimming and golf. When it gets closer to the games, I will work on interval techniques and my strokes with Miranda. I want this to give people hope and a reason not to give up. There are around 114,000 Americans on an organ waiting list, but there has to be the strength to receive one. I never dreamed my running and swimming prior would help me, but it comes in handy when you go through something like this.
Baptist Health/Milestone Wellness Center
750 Cypress Station Dr.
Louisville, KY 40207