MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As the lights glistened on Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis, skiers took part in a celebration of Minnesota winter.
Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was ready to slip on his ski boots. You would never know his last ski trip was almost his very last.
“I did come a little closer to not being here than I’d probably ever want to,” Rybak said.
On Jan. 4, Rybak was skiing in Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis when he suffered a major heart attack.
He was taken to the hospital where doctors gave him two angioplasties and six stents. But he was set on getting back out there.
“Doing things like the loppet are good for your heart even though, you know, people like me, whose dad had a few heart attacks, are probably a little more likely to have a little setback,” Rybak said. “But I’m over that one.”
Rybak, a long-time skier, helped create the initial City of Lakes Loppet Festival in 2002. Now the Comcast Luminary Loppet has become the highlight of the weekend event.
For Rybak, he’s thankful to be alive. He wants people to learn something from his story.
“They told me I had a heart attack because of genetics but I had zero damage because of lifestyle,” he said.
Rybak says his best medicine to recovery has been being active and tackling the slopes, surrounded by the people of his favorite city.
“This is Minnesota. Hey, it’s winter and I think we all have the heart to have a good time,” he said.