Aspen Fritz ran the race of her life — a life that depended on a heart transplant only two years ago — when she recently completed a mile-and-a-half course as a member of the Carden of Tucson Middle School cross country team.
“We had a very cool moment in sports. (Fritz) has had many battles to overcome before getting here,” Carden of Tucson athletic director Philip Hendricks said.
Aspen was born with a very serious congenital heart defect that caused her blood-oxygen levels to be very low and limited her from running activities.
“She had a very hard time doing any physical activity,” Hendricks said. “She had an oxygen tank with her at all times and had to sit out for a lot of physical activity.”
On Sept. 1, 2016, Fritz underwent heart transplant surgery, which not only kept her alive but also enhanced her health to the point doctors allowed her to attempt her goal of running in a cross country race.
Aspen felt confident enough to ask for a spot on Carden’s cross country team. On Oct. 13, she had her first opportunity to compete in the Carden Classic.
She completed the mile-and-a-half run in 24:32.16. The time did not matter. The fact that she achieved her moment of a lifetime meant everything.
“This is one of those moments you don’t forget in sports, and shows how you can overcome anything,” Hendricks said.