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Submitted photo Shawn Weatherhead with his wife, Tammy, and their three children, Aaron, Josiah and Anthony. Two months after double bypass heart surgery, Shawn is back to work but continues to wear out easily.

'Christmas Angel' gets angels of his own

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On March 21, Shawn Weatherhead went in for an angiogram. It was a planned, routine procedure to check for blockage in the arteries in his heart and possibly add another stent.

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What the doctors found, however, took 'routine procedure' out of the equation.

When Weatherhead woke up, he was told he had such severe blockage he needed open-heart double bypass surgery - and he needed it the very next morning.

So, at age 46, five years after his first heart attack, Weatherhead had double bypass - arteries were pulled from his arm and replaced in his heart.

In an interview last week, Weatherhead said it wasn't the thought of surgery that scared him; it was the thought of the electric shock procedure they had to use to get his heart started again when they were done. He needed three shocks, four if you count the one during his angiogram procedure.

He didn't figure on the long road to recovery, either. Weatherhead's restrictions included a month of no driving or lifting, which is a difficult task for a tow truck driver. He found himself "out of commission" and unable to work for that whole month.

That's when friends and family members came to his aid.

Those who don't know Weatherhead may recall a story about him. Last Christmas, he unknowingly helped another family on their own road to recovery: a mom from Thief River Falls wrote a letter to the editor of this newspaper about a 'Christmas Angel' who towed her and her daughter home from Perham, free of charge, after their vehicle broke down. They were on their way home from Fargo Hospital, where her daughter was in rehab trying to overcome complications from double concussions she had suffered earlier in the year.

Without Weatherhead, the woman wrote, she didn't know what she would have done.

Stories like this aren't a rare thing in Weatherhead's life. Coming to someone's aid is something that comes naturally for him, something he is known for.

"Shawn would be the first person there to help someone," said Ruth Wegscheid, the lead coordinator of the benefit. "He is a wonderful Christian man, community orientated, active at St. Paul's and many other groups."

In fact, Weatherhead said accepting help from others, including an upcoming fundraiser benefit on his behalf, was a little difficult for him, as he is usually the one on the giving side.

But his friends, family and other community members insisted that he needed angels, too.

"It's very humbling, and almost embarrassing, to be on the side where we need help," Weatherhead said. "I wish everyone had good friends like that."

Besides planning the benefit, friends and family have come through for Weatherhead in other ways. Some, for example, stepped up to the plate to continue to run his company, Little Bear Towing, for the month he was unable to work. His wife even went out on a couple of wrecker runs.

Weatherhead is active in Dreams for Kids, the Christian Motorcyclist Association, the Perham Car Club and St Paul's Church.

He and his wife of 15 years, Tammy, along with their three children Aaron, 17, Anthony, 12, and Josiah, 5, live in Perham. He also has three children from a previous marriage who live out of the home - Bradley, 24, Lily, 23, and Shawna, 19.

Silent auction items for the benefit will be accepted through Friday, June 1 at St. Paul's Lutheran Church. For more information, call Ruth at 367-2571.

IF YOU GO:

WHAT: Spaghetti Dinner and Silent Auction Fundraiser

WHERE: St. Paul's Church in Perham

WHEN: Saturday, June 2 from 4-7 p.m.

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