While some heroes may be in military uniform, athletic jersey or firefighter’s bunker, bonnet and boots, there are others who battle against great odds and are accorded a hero’s win.

St. Germain resident Steve Soltwedel was given a hero’s welcome home Jan. 7. A line of well-wishers more than a dozen strong, three Bo-Boen Snowmobile Club groomers and drags and a number of snowmobiles lined up in St. Germain Community Park to honor and greet Soltwedel.

A Vilas County Sheriff’s Department deputy met Soltwedel’s vehicle with lights and siren as Soltwedel’s daughter, Kim Upton, brought him through the park on his way home after a nearly yearlong battle with Covid-19 classified as severe/critical case. Soltwedel is in the rare 0.5% of people that have recovered from that level of illness.

Said Upton, “His survival really is a miracle.”

Soltwedel was days away from his first Covid-19 vaccination when he began showing signs of the infection. He was admitted to Marshfield Medical Center in Minocqua on Feb. 15, 2021, with difficulty breathing and fever. The disease progressed, and on Feb. 28 he was intubated and transferred to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield via ambulance and medical helicopter. After clearing the virus on March 5, Soltwedel developed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, which necessitated re-intubation. At the same time, it was discovered that he was also in kidney failure.

Other medical procedures and diagnoses were also in Soltwedel’s immediate future. On March 22, he received a tracheostomy and peg tube; was transferred to Select Specialty Hospital in Madison on April 7; transferred to Meriter ICU in Madison with sepsis and pneumonia on April 27; on May 10, he was transferred back to Select Specialty Hospital and finally transferred to Rennes Health and Rehabilitation in Rhinelander on Aug. 4. Like so many other Covid-19 patients, Soltwedel experienced multiple blood clots and a stroke during his hospital stay.

Soltwedel remained at Rennes Health and Rehabilitation until his Jan. 7 release home.

The Soltwedel family has been supported throughout the ordeal by members of the St. Germain community, including the Bo-Boen Snowmobile Club, and the St. Germain Lions Club, which is credited with providing a “ton” of help. The Aging and Disability Resource Center Of Vilas County (ADRC) is also going to provide meals for the family during the recovery period.

Upton expressed appreciation for all the support shown from the area.

“He received cards every day for a year, and these cards, visits and well-wishes gave him the strength and determination to keep moving forward,” she said.

The title “hero” belongs to Soltwedel, who not only overcame the severe Covid-19, but also succeeded in business at Filtertek in Hebron, Ill., and served the St. Germain community since relocating here in 2007. Soltwedel is a past president of the Bo-Boen Snowmobile Club, past president of the Apple Dumpling Gang, past chairman of Big St Germain Lakes District and board member of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Northwoods.