I very rarely do this, bu I’m reaching out with a request for support and a plea for everyone to do what it takes to get and stay healthy. Most of you know my Father (Mark Eck) passed away unexpectedly from a massive heart attack in early November last year. His health deteriorated rapidly (in a matter of days), and then a heart attack took his life at age 63 after 30+ years of letting this health take a back seat to work, family, and other distractions. The loss was devastating, and a huge shock to my family. But it was also a clear warning shot to my siblings and I that we have to continue to take care of our bodies to ensure we don’t meet the same fate.
One of my favorite things to do in life is to run marathons. After my first (NYC) in 2009, I wasn’t sure my body could handle more, and then last year in an effort to stave off the “Dad bod”, I cobbled together a decent performance in the Chicago marathon running with my sister-in-law just a few weeks before my Dad died. I was elated that I could still run injury and pain-free, and I was just finishing my recovery when he passed. In the months that followed, mourning tossed my health out the door, and the arrival of my 2nd daughter in May made things even more difficult (sleep deprivation makes recovery from even a normal day difficult!). Sometime in June I snuck away for a 1hr workout at the gym and was totally rocked by a workout set that would have been insignificant just a couple years ago. Frustrated, concerned, and disappointed that I was ignoring the warning shot that had been sent our way, I went home and searched the internet for ways to get back into the Chicago Marathon. I was too late to register as a past runner, which meant my only option was to run with a charity group, and the charities I saw listed didn’t offer a natural connection. I truly hate asking for money, and I sure as heck wasn’t going to do so in a disingenuous fashion. Then a friend recommended the American Heart Association group - the same charity we invited friends and family to donate to when my Dad died. Finally - something I was *deadly* serious about, and could feel great supporting.
I know that several people reading this post will have already donated back in November, and for that celebration of my Dad’s life, my family and I remain eternally grateful. This year, I invite everyone to donate on a more positive note - in the spirit of prevention and with the goal of supporting the world’s largest organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. While society generally knows how to prevent heart disease and stroke, the reality is that far too many people still ignore heart health. It’s just too easy to “leave it for tomorrow.” But my family and I know from my Dad’s passing that waiting until tomorrow to finally take heart health seriously just doesn’t work. The folks at the AHA still need our help to keep heart health front and center in today’s world, and I’m committed to supporting that cause.
I’m not looking for huge amounts. If 60 people donate $25 each, we hit the goal. If you want to donate more, that's awesome. If you want to just catch up, let’s go for a run and put the $25 we would have spent on lunch or beers toward a donation to my team page. Lots of ways to justify this, and I’ll keep posting my workouts here to prove to everyone that I’m taking this seriously.
Even if you’re not the biggest fan of the AHA, I’d appreciate your support, as I’m running for far more reasons than just to support the AHA...
- I’m running for my wife and partner (Caitlin), who supported me through the most difficult period of my life, and who I plan to I support for the rest of OUR lives.
- I’m running for our two incredible daughters (Olive and Hope), who I want to watch grow old and gray before I finally kick the bucket. I also want to run races with them in 20 years...those will be some of the happiest days of my life if I can live them!
- I’m running for myself, to prove that I can remain fit and committed to health even during the most trying of circumstances.
- And I’m running for you, Dad - to celebrate your life and to make the most of the life you’ve given me.
Whether you donate or not, at least take a moment to consider your own health and whether you’re doing all you can to support it. Friends and family are counting on you and cherish you - don’t let it take a heart attack, or worse yet, a funeral to realize that!
Thanks in advance, and ping me anytime if you want to go for a run. :)