NEW PALTZ, NY — SUNY New Paltz women’s tennis player Lindsey Trifiletti and men’s swimmer Nick Johnson were presented with an Award of Valor at the annual State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) awards dinner.
Junior Nick Johnson (Highland Mills, NY) returned to the men’s swim team this past season after fighting a battle with Vasculitis. In the summer of 2006, Nick was diagnosed with vasculitis and his swim days came to an abrupt halt. Vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels in the body. In vasculitis, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own blood vessels, causing them to become inflamed. Inflammation can damage the blood vessels and lead to a number of serious complications.
For Johnson, vasculitis caused swelling on his brain, which affected his vision, balance, and short term memory. He developed lesions on his brain and had multiple mini strokes. Due to the severity of his condition, Johnson had to learn to walk and talk again. After being treated at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center he attempted to return to school for the fall 2006 semester but the vasculitis returned. On November 3rd, 2006 Nick was cleared, which he says was like being set free. He decided it was best for his health to take a leave of absence from school and swimming to focus on fully restoring his health.
Johnson stated that he would not have been able to get through his battle with vasculitis without the support of his family, friends, teammates and coach. He is excited to be back in school and a part of the swim program.
Johnson fights daily battles which can be a struggle at times but he doesn’t let it get the best of him. The classroom has become more of a challenge for him due to the effect on his memory but everyday he is retaining more knowledge and improving. Johnson will graduate in 2010 with a bachelor of fine arts in painting and a minor in psychology. He would like to go onto graduate school to become an art therapist. He said that his illness opened his eyes as to what he is supposed to do with is life. He enjoys helping people and art is a great way to encourage people to get their feelings out. Nick’s final message is, “life is not set in stone; you don’t have control over it; appreciate everyday."
Lindsey Trifiletti’s family chose not to disclose the details of her award.