North Idaho

Triathlete running for Gonzaga grad who needs double lung transplant

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Triathlete and CF

One California man will tackle Sunday's Ironman Coeur d'Alene course for a recent Gonzaga graduate who has just days to receive a lifesaving transplant.

Jake Bigley graduated from Gonzaga in May and at that time his Cystic Fibrosis, which he's lived with since he was an infant, was in check. However, after returning to his home in Southern California to be with family his health took a turn for the worse.

From his hospital room in Los Angeles, Bigley's older sister says he's sedated and hooked up to two machines to keep him stable.

"My mom, my dad, my sister and I have all had our moments of breakdown and the waiting game is horrific," Elise Bigley said.

The machines keeping the 22-year-old stable are not meant to keep him alive for long -- only days.

"We are in a very last resort situation, the only option for Jake at this point is a double lung transplant," Elise said.

While his family waits at his bedside for lungs that match his O+ blood type, a family friend has traveled to Coeur d'Alene to make good on a promise he made to Bigley.

"He said to go for it, go for it and train hard," Dominique Chipot said.

Inspired by Bigley's strength and courage throughout his struggle with Cystic Fibrosis, Chipot decided to dedicate his first Ironman race to him.

"Jake was an inspiration, an example first of all of survival, which also with Ironman is a survival race and agony and to me Jake is one of the toughest Ironmen," Chipot said.

Chipot says the irony of today's situation is that he never thought Bigley would fall into such a critical state this close to race day. But now he has an even bigger reason to finish the 140-mile race.

"I'm hoping it's great news by race day, that he has received lungs, but if it's bad news well," Chipot paused. "I'll definitely run for him, swim for him, ride for him."

Dominique has also raised $14,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation through his Ironman fundraising page. That's $100 for each Ironman mile he completes, as Bigley and his family wait for something more precious than money.

"We believe he has so much more to give on this earth, he has so much more to live for, I think we all have said God has big plans for him, he's mean to inspire and persevere," Elise said.

"I will need this inspiration, I will have to remind myself what I'm here for, it's not for myself, it's for him because that's what I started with and I'll finish with," Chipot said.

Chipot also urges everyone to sign up to be an organ donor, which can be a life-saving move for someone like Bigley.