Doctors can't stop him from running with daughter

Dana Hein and her father, Craig Dantonio, spend Thursdays together running. Despite a doctor’s warning about an illness he has developed, they are still running Sunday.
Dana Hein and her father, Craig Dantonio, spend Thursdays together running. Despite a doctor’s warning about an illness he has developed, they are still running Sunday.
Posted: May 06, 2012

This is the last of 21 profiles that The Inquirer is presenting of participants in Sunday’s Blue Cross Broad Street Run. See full coverage at www.philly.com/broadstreetrun.

By Michael Vitez

INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

When Dana Hein was a little girl, she loved to watch Rocky movies.

“It was like watching a movie about my dad,” she said. “He and my mom married with next to nothing to their name and no college degrees, but they gave us kids the world despite the odds. He would do anything for his family, not to mention I have vivid memories of him hitting the speed bag in the little gym in my basement and hearing ‘The Eye of the Tiger’ play.”

Her father, Craig Dantonio, works the second shift at Vanguard, but has also built a life as a personal trainer on the side. It’s a natural fit, since he has exercised his whole life.

“He has sustained many injuries along the way,” Dana added, “crushed Achilles tendon, broken feet, bad knees, but he takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin.’ ”

Dana is busy — wife, mother of two, full-time ICU nurse, and in school for her masters at LaSalle. Yet her father has inspired her to work out, and she started using him as her own personal trainer a few years ago.

They decided to run Broad Street last year and loved everything about it: the energy, the crowds — and best of all, being together.

“For Fathers Day,” said Dana, “I got a plaque made with a picture of us finishing the race together and named it ‘Dad and Daughter Day!’ From that day on we knew it would be a yearly tradition for us.”

Not that simple.

Last June Craig was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, basically shingles in his ear. It affects the cranial nerves. All summer, fall and winter, he battled fatigue, dizziness and pain, though he slowly improved.

Still, doctors told him: no Broad Street Run, nothing strenuous until they see him the end of May.

“Well, you can just forget that,” said Dana. “There was no stopping him.”

Little by little he was back in the gym and he got stronger every week. His motivation, of course, was to run Broad Street with his daughter. Since February, Craig and Dana have run 10 miles every Thursday from his home in Phoenixville to her home in Royersford and back.

“Thursday is our day. We spend it together doing something we love, with someone we love, because not one of us is promised tomorrow,” Dana said.

“People are full of too many excuses these days, and my dad is living proof you can do anything you put your mind, heart, and soul to.”

They’ll be on the starting line together Sunday, the second annual Dad and Daughter day.

Contact Michael Vitez at 215-854-5639 or mvitez@phillynews.com or on Twitter @michaelvitez Check out his new book, The Road Back, on a Broad Street runner at www.michaelvitez.com

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