Deputy sheriff refuses to be sidelined by cystic fibrosis

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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) -- After more than a year of trying, a Clinton County, New York sheriff's deputy with cystic fibrosis is officially back on the force. And it was just in the nick of time.

"I am so honored to be able to hire him back and get him back on this department, and put him back on the streets," said Clinton County Sheriff David Favro last summer.

That was when one of his deputies, Aaron Heroux, was getting his job back at the Clinton County Sheriff's Department after a double-lung transplant. State lawmakers passed a special law to get him back to work, because at that time he didn't meet the age requirements anymore.

"I made a promise to myself the very day that I retired -- or I stopped working -- that I was going to be back in uniform," Heroux said.

But there was still one more requirement this determined deputy had to meet: the fitness test that's required of new recruits. Heroux thought his greatest obstacle was behind him, but one running test became a road block.

"It would bring back that emotion, and that nervousness and that fear. When you're gonna catch that next breath. And with that, my body would, or my mind would tell my body, 'Hey, shut it down,'" Heroux said.

Heroux has cystic fibrosis, a disease that severely damages the lungs. Running isn't his activity of choice. But he was determined to get his dream job back -- and so was his department.

Sheriff Favro says he did his best to help, even trying to run with Heroux on the course.

"And he used more energy to fight with me when I was trying to pull him along the track than it would have taken to run. But he was sheer panic, and I'll never be able to express how he felt. I don't think anybody who can breathe can express how he felt at that time," Favro said.

On Heroux's 42nd attempt, and with just two days left to do it, he passed.

"So that's at least 41 fails, and 41 bad days over the past year of disappointment. And it was tough, but you know, you get up the next day and you say today is a new day," Heroux said.

Heroux says he's thankful for all the support from others that helped him reach his goal.

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