FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Stroke Survivor Is Named Kjell Tovander Award Winner
Dean Slatev is Named the Second Recipient of the Annual Award
Tulsa, Okla. (Nov. 20, 2010) - The Williams Route 66 Marathon board of
directors along with the Tovander family announced Dean Slatev as the
recipient of this year's Kjell Tovander Award at the 2010 Williams Route 66
Marathon Pasta Dinner tonight.
The award recognizes an individual who impacts the world in an uplifting
way and is named in honor of Kjell Tovander who died while trying to
complete the Route 66 Half Marathon on Nov. 16, 2008. Tovander, only 21 at
the time of his death, spent three years studying at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology and was preparing for a career in the Navy.
"We continue to be amazed at the caliber of runners with inspiring stories
who have overcome great adversity to participate in the marathon," said
Chris Lieberman, executive director of Tulsa Route 66 Marathon, Inc.
"Dean's story and his compassion for others made him an excellent and
obvious choice as this year's honoree."
Slatev, 41, suffered a massive stroke in 2006 that left the right side of
his body temporarily paralyzed with permanent loss of feeling in his right
hand. The stroke was a result of a hole in his heart that allowed a blood
clot to reach the left side of his brain. Six months after his stroke,
Slatev had a surgical procedure to close the hole and prevent future
"People who have a brush with death say it is a life-changing experience
and that every day is a new day to appreciate," said Slatev in his
nomination letter. "That is so true. Now I find myself trying to live a
healthier life even though it wasn't my bad health that caused the stroke.
I do this for myself so that I may be there for my family and others who
may need me."
As a former high school athlete with a walk-on position for the University
of Oklahoma Sooners football team secured after graduating high school,
Slatev had always considered himself an athlete. His dream was to play for
the Sooners, but a severe injury to his ankle prevented him from ever being
able to suit up.
"My dream to play for OU is the only goal I will never be able to reach,"
While Slatev may never play for OU, it is not stopping him from helping
other young men reach their high school football dreams. Slatev volunteers
his time coaching young men at summer football camps with former Oklahoma
Sooner Uwe von Schamman and OU head coach Bob Stoops. Former players Slatev
has worked with include former Sooner Garrett Hartley of the NFL's New
Orleans Saints and Jimmy Stevens of the current Sooners football team.
He also serves on the selection committee for the Jim Thorpe Award
presented to college football's most outstanding defensive back in the
nation through the ESPN college football awards show in December each year.
A year after the stroke, Slatev's son, Ashton, was a member of the
McGuinness High School cross country team and questioned his father's
reluctance to run with him. Slatev contended that if it didn't involve a
ball it wasn't a sport and he was not interested, but the question loomed
and he decided to give running a try.
"I barely ran to the end of my block before I stopped to walk," remembers
It was a wake-up call for Slatev and he began setting new goals for
himself. The man who had to relearn all the motor skills associated with
the use of his right hand including eating, writing and brushing his teeth
was now determined to run one mile. One mile was quickly followed by three
miles and soon he was running his first half marathon. Slatev will complete
his second official half marathon race on Sunday, Nov. 21 and is using it
as a spring board to formally train for and complete a marathon.
"I consider being a stroke victim a badge of honor," said Slatev. "I find
myself trying to do things I never thought I could ever do like run a
Slatev lives by the motto, "Dream big. Work hard. Pray often." He is so
impassioned by these words he had them engraved on a stone outside the Jim
Thorpe Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame as a reminder to himself, his family,
his friends and everyone who passes through its doors that anything is
About the Williams Route 66 Marathon
The marathon, in its fifth year, will host 9,000 participants with an
expected economic impact of just over $5 million. Registration is up 30
percent from last year's events. Races include the marathon, half
marathon, marathon relay, 5K, and one-mile fun run.
The 2010 Williams Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, Okla., is set for Sunday,
Nov. 21, 2010, and the 2011 Williams Route 66 Quarter Marathon is Saturday,
Oct. 15, 2011. Events are held annually the Sunday before Thanksgiving and
third to last Saturday in October, respectively. The fifth anniversary of
the Williams Route 66 Marathon weekend includes a two-day health and
fitness expo, pasta dinner, marathon, half marathon, five-person marathon
relay, 5K run/walk, and a one-mile fun run/walk. Post-race festivities
include concerts and a classic car show. To learn more about the events,
sponsoring, training or volunteering, please e-mail
, call (918) 409-2828, or visit
www.route66marathon.com and www.quartermarathon.com.