As the Chief Medical Officer for Arvinas, a biopharmaceutical company, Cheshire’s Ron Peck became concerned when the first cases of the coronavirus started popping up in China last year. It took only a couple of months for the pandemic to directly impact him and his family.
As Connecticut instituted their lockdown to combat COVID-19 back in March, Peck started feeling the same symptoms that he was reading about and seeing on TV.
“It started with fevers, sweats, and chills,” reflected Peck, who coughed up blood at one point and experienced breathing issues. “My biggest problem was that I was nauseous and vomiting. I couldn’t hold down food.”
Within two or three days of getting a fever, Peck got tested and learned that he had been diagnosed with coronavirus.
“I think that I was one of the first Cheshire people with a documented infection,” stated Peck. “It got to the point where I thought I would be dehydrated and need to go to the hospital. At that point, you don’t know, if you are brought to the hospital, when you will see your family again.”
While he didn’t end up having to leave his home, Peck spent two weeks isolated in his bedroom. During the scary time, his fellow alums from Georgetown University came up with a way to show their support musically.
Since Peck’s favorite band is the Beatles, his college friends decided to sing the song “Hey Jude” for him. When the video get-well card was posted online and became a viral hit, the story caught the attention of People Magazine, who did a feature on Peck after he recuperated from his illness in April.
“I was overjoyed that my friends had done this for me,” said Peck, who received many phone calls and text messages to wish him well. “I don’t ever remember being that sick before. Everybody was really concerned, but, thankfully, I got better.”
Friends John Alagia and John Lyons spearheaded the project and played piano and guitar, respectively, in the video that runs for just over five minutes. Back in college, they played in a band, Idle Minds, with Edward Laborde, who plays guitar with his son in the tribute. Another band member, Ismael De Diego, was filmed holding up cards in the video.
“When we have reunions, the band gets back together again. I’ve sat in on a couple of songs, since I play piano,” said Peck, who graduated from Georgetown in 1986. “In college, I helped with the band, like moving their equipment.”
Like Peck, all of the band members love the Beatles.
“‘Hey Jude’ is my favorite song, so they figured that they could sing it and get other people to do it, too,” explained Peck. “John Alagia is a big producer who has worked with (musicians) Jason Mraz, John Mayer, and the Dave Matthews Band.”
Peck’s wife Susan, who also graduated from Georgetown, was pleasantly surprised that the band wanted to make the video.
“These are dear friends of ours who we’ve known for 30 years,” said Susan Peck. “John Lyons asked for phone numbers from people, but didn’t tell me why at first.”
Along with Georgetown alums, Cheshire residents Luben and Abbi Beaucejour also danced in the video. Luben is a pastor who leads a mission program called BEM Haiti.
After participants had filmed their clips and sent them to be put together, the video was sent to Susan Peck with instructions.
“I got the video over email, but was told to not watch it because our friends wanted to see our reaction together,” Susan Peck explained.
Over a FaceTime call, the Peck family was blown away by what their friends had done.
“It was overwhelming when we all saw it. I cried,” recalled Susan Peck.
While Georgetown alums were working on the video tribute, the Peck family teamed up to battle coronavirus at home.
“I have three daughters (Caroline, Emily, Isabel) and they really stepped up,” explained Peck. “At one point, my wife got a fever for three days and had to be quarantined.”
Eventually, his daughters also became ill in the house. The family suspected that Emily was “patient zero” for the virus.
“There was an outbreak at Colgate (University) before she got home,” said Peck.
During his illness, Peck spoke two to three times daily with his internist.
“During the time waiting for the test results, I took Tamiflu (antiviral medicine),” recalled Peck. “It didn’t do anything, but then my internist prescribed some nausea medicine.”
“He never gets sick, so for our daughters and me to see him that ill was very hard,” reflected Susan Peck. “The rest of us had symptoms, but he was very sick.”
Through his experience with COVID-19, Peck gained an appreciation for his daily life.
“Sometimes, you take the simple things, like getting up and going to the refrigerator to get breakfast, for granted,” explained Peck. “Since my daughters were home from school, they helped to get food for my wife and I.”
In an unforgettable moment, Peck recalls the first time that he went outside since the onset of his illness. His wife took a picture of him sitting in a chair and it ended up appearing in People Magazine.
“I had a four-week-old beard and was so grateful to be out in my backyard,” Peck recalled. “I was so happy that I had turned the curve. I wasn’t able to do anything for myself up to that point.”
One of the Georgetown alums in the video, Rich Battista was the person who set up getting Peck’s feature in People Magazine. Battista previously worked as the CEO of Time Magazine.
“I was copied on an email that was sent to a high-level executive. It was fun that they wanted to do a story on this,” Peck said.
Two weeks after his fever went away, he spoke with a reporter about his experience. The piece appeared online back on April 29.
“I figured that this would be my 15 minutes of fame. In a video, they show me being interviewed, along with John Lyons and John Alagia,” said Peck. “At work, they found out that I was in it (the magazine) and they circulated the link. I was getting a lot of jokes from people saying that I was famous now.”
Peck hopes that his story can help people take the coronavirus seriously.
“It is obviously scary. It is not a hoax,” explained Peck. “People, who are older and have underlying conditions are at more risk, but younger people can get this virus, too. We need to listen to the doctors and follow the science.”
Even after recovering from the virus, he enjoys how his friends record Beatles songs and text them to him.
“At Georgetown, I made really good friends who I’ve kept close with over the years,” reflected Peck, who roomed with Lyons in college. “I met my wife there, and those guys were part of my wedding.”
Peck looks forward to attending his next reunion and getting back together with his band friends.
“I think ‘Hey Jude’ is going to be a standard song for the group,” said Peck. “I promise that I can be behind the piano for that song.”