By: Hannah Paczkowski
Friends and family would describe John Schintzel as a hard worker who was full of life, but at 51-years-old, John lost his life to the West Nile Virus.
"I couldn't believe it, I mean here's a guy that was in the best shape out of all of us from college, I mean he was rowing marathons. He was probably one of the best rowers to come out of the University of Charleston," his college friend John Bancheri said.
This case is rare because health officials say West Nile patients typically aren't very active.
"People that have heart disease or diabetes or adrenal disease, so generally folks that are generally older are going to be at greater risk," Disease surveillance nurse Kate Lange said.
Right now in this region, which includes Filmore, Gage, Jefferson, Saline and Thayer counties, there are four confirmed cases of West Nile and four probable cases.
September is considered the peak of West Nile season which is right when John started feeling sick.
To continue his legacy as a dedicated rower, his wife set up the John Schintzel Memorial Fund. All contributions will go to the Grand Valley Rowing Club and their equipment, so a part of John will continue to live on through the sport.
"If you've ever rowed, everyone wants a boat named after them, so he'll stay in the sport of rowing," Bancheri said.
The Public Health Department advises anyone who thinks they might have West Nile to see a doctor immediately.
To donate to the John Schintzel Memorial Fund, go to http://www.grandvalleyrowing.com/newsite/5543