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Through snow and sleet, Old Brooklyn man keeps walking in order to keep living

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Posted at 5:18 PM, Feb 03, 2022

CLEVELAND — This week’s prolonged winter storm, which pummeled Northeast Ohio with snow and cold temperatures, has made driving treacherous — let alone walking. However, neither the near-blizzard conditions nor any of life’s other setbacks have been enough to keep an Old Brooklyn man from putting one foot in front of the other.

With two mismatched canes and a pair of Adidas tennis shoes, Nicholas Prodonovich methodically mushes through the slush and snow. It’s just before noon and he’s navigating large snowdrifts, distracted drivers and slippery sidewalks. It’s cold. It’s windy. It’s miserable.

And he’s smiling.

“I’m thrilled to be on this side of the grass,” Prodonovich said as he let out a hearty laugh. “I do the best that I can with what the good Lord gives me.”

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On days like Thursday, it may be difficult to see the blessings in life; it is a winter storm after all. But when Prodonovich tells you he feels blessed for having to trudge through yet another snowstorm, he means it with every fiber in his surgically-repaired body.

“I’m getting through the [the recovery from a] stroke and everything is good. I still see daylight and the vision is coming back,” Prodonovich said as he surveyed a snow-covered Broadview Road in Old Brooklyn. “I went blind because of [the stroke] but I had the stroke two months ago. I didn’t know I had it until it pressed on my optic nerve. My vision is coming back a little bit at a time.”

Prodonovich said he had no vision just two weeks ago, but it has slowly returned with each and every day and with each and every step too. As part of his recovery, Prodonovich was instructed by his doctor to stay active. Get your steps in. Move. Walk. Do something.

Prodonovich heard the message loud and clear.

“I get at least two miles in a day. I got to keep the ticker going,” Prodonovich said.

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By "ticker" he means his pacemaker, which was the end result of quadruple bypass surgery nearly a decade ago. Since he was released to recover from his stroke last month, Prodonovich has walked from his house near Memphis and Pearl Road to Gabe’s Family Diner, located at the intersection of Broadview and Spring.

It’s not a marathon — nor is it a sprint. But his walks at his age are impressive nonetheless.

“I can complain about my knees hurting but my buddy is going to watch the new. He doesn’t have legs,” Prodonovich said. “If mine are hurting it means I still have them.”

He again let out a belly laugh.

Prodonovich said the most challenging aspects to his daily walks come when snow is plowed up against the sidewalk, forming a snow dam of sorts. Even with braces on his ankles, he hoists himself over the snow blockades with relative ease.

“If God put it there, God will take it away,” he said.

Prodonovich has had a knack for overcoming life’s challenges — even the tragic ones.

“Doctors gave me two months to live. I’m still here. That tells me God is in charge,” he said.

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In October 2012, Prodonovich dropped off his best friend and business partner, Thomas Cronin, at his home in Industry, Penn., a suburb of Pittsburgh. The two men had just secured a significant business deal.

About four hours later, Cronin was dead.

According to WTAE, a fire had ripped through Cronin’s home, killing him and another woman, Cara Marie Crosby. The coroner’s office had to use dental records to make a positive identification.

Back then, Prodonovich’s faith was tested, sure, but it wasn’t shaken.

“I praised the Lord then and I will praise the Lord now until the day I die,” Prodonovich said.

It may be difficult to recognize and it may be difficult to see — especially in a near-blizzard — but every day is a blessing.

“I’ve been blessed, I’ve been blessed. I can’t complain about anything,” Prodonovich said.