John Leonardi Overcomes Life Threatening Injuries

by | Aug 9, 2017 | 911, City News, County News, Cullman, Cullman City, Faith, Interviews, People, Public Safety, Videos

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For most of the 550 participants in last Saturday’s EvaBank Midnight Run, it was all about glitter, black lights and setting a personal best time enjoyed in their healthy, supple bodies.

Not for Cullman resident John Leonardi.

John was just grateful to be upright. Being able to enter this race was an epochal life achievement. His goal was not a personal best time; it was simply to finish the race.

On August 8th of 2016, John barely survived a wicked one car rollover accident on Highway 31 south near Crosshaven Church. He required emergency personnel from Cullman Fire Rescue to extricate him from his crushed, overturned vehicle.

He also took an expensive helicopter ride to the UAB Medical Center and their Trauma Unit courtesy of Air Evac Lifeteam.

John sustained multiple severe injuries that were initially life threatening in this incident. His lower extremities, namely his legs, were all but destroyed. He incurred significant breaks to the femurs of both legs.

John’s blood glucose bottomed out under 25 due to a diabetic episode at the time of the accident. This created a behind-the-wheel blackout situation.

We covered John’s car crash that day:

Fast-forward one year and John enters the Midnight Run.

His doctors at UAB and Cullman Regional were convinced that he would some day walk again. However, they were far less optimistic that he’d ever run again, much less in a competitive race.

No one – except perhaps himself – projected that John would be able to participate in the Midnight Run less than a year later. He has been a consistent competitor in this annual run for years.

His will to heal, his desire to race again and his profound will to live (along with tons of assistance from extremely skilled physical therapists) coupled with a mind-blowing work ethic had John at the starting line at the Civic Center early Saturday morning.

Not only did John Leonardi enter this race, but he also finished the run in a very respectable, if not shockingly quick, 52 minutes. Not bad for a guy who nearly died, and could not walk, much less run a year ago.

John talks with us about all this before and after the EvaBank Midnight Run 5K:

Blood Sugar and complications from diabetes were not an issue during the race; John’s blood glucose was steady at 120 and ended the race at 90.

John had plenty of thankful good wishes to spread around after the race:

“Spain Rehabilitation at UAB and the staff at CRMC Rehabilitation Center are the ones I want to to thank this. And my wife … she pushed me all along the way; she is a big reason that I am here and why I was able to do this race. She ran it as well; it was her first time to run a 5k!”

EvaBank Midnight Run 5K 2017
John Leonardi Overcomes Life Threatening Injuries

Timothy Collins

Timothy brings an insightful holistic perspective as well as a mountain man tenacity to his various roles at Cullman Today. You can reach him at

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