He thought he was getting a wife.
In a “miraculous” turn of events, the owner of the iconic Hamburger Wagon in Miamisburg ended up getting “a hero,” as well.
Jack Sperry reconnected with Alexandra “Alex” Heeter-Frazier a little over five years ago through Facebook.
Both had gone to Centerville High School – Jack graduating a year before her in 1981 – and both now were divorced and co-raising two daughters with their former spouses.
“We didn’t run in the same circles in high school, but we knew each other,” Alex said. “He was a football player and I was on the drill team.”
After high school and a degree at Miami University, she got a job in Seattle and eventually ended up in Fredrick, Md. where her then-husband worked for the Department of Energy. Her daughter Hannah is now a sophomore at James Madison University and daughter Grace is a junior in high school.
After a stellar football career with the Elks, Jack got a marketing degree at Ohio State, worked for 18 years at Bank One in Dayton, moved briefly to another job and in 2008 bought the Hamburger Wagon.
And along with his friend and fellow downtown businessman, Ron Holp of Ron’s Pizza, Jack helped launch the Rock ‘N’ Green Tomato Festival in Miamisburg, an event that has become a fundraiser for various community efforts.
While Jack is well known in the community, he had something of a secret the past 15 years that he only shared with immediate family and close friends.
But as his reconnection with Alex developed into a long-distance romance – a union they eventually began to realize would turn to marriage – Jack shared the situation with her.
“When we started dating, he said, ‘There’s this thing I’ve got called Berger’s Disease,’” Alex said, using the common name for IgA nephropathy, a kidney disease that results when an immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibody lodges in your kidney.
There is no cure.
Jack said his nephrologist – Dr. Ibrahim Ahmad of Kidney Care Specialists in Kettering – told him he was in Stage IV renal failure. Just two weeks ago Jack said his kidneys were operating at only 14 percent.
And that’s when the miracle happened.