The saddest day of my life was October 25, 2006. My Dad, Joe Kelleher, died of a heart attack while playing hockey. My siblings and I were completely devastated.
Since then I have sought to learn about cardiovascular disease. My family and I have participated in the Heart Walk since 2009. This cause means so much to me and I hope that reading this will have some impact on your daily life.
As I learned more about cardiovascular health I started with reflecting on my own youth. With my own family, I recall things like trips to the Ground Round, heavily salting our meals, drinking soda, and eating loads of red meat. All of these things contributed to a pretty unhealthy lifestyle. (The sugar dipped strawberries probably didn’t help either.) Heart disease is a silent killer and daily decisions that typically seem harmless are often to blame for the invisible damage we do to our heart.
Heart disease can also be hereditary. My Dad’s case may have been congenital, but it also could have been skipping the gym or making unhealthy decisions. I won’t ever know exactly what caused my Dad’s heart to fail that day in October. What I do know is that you have the power to prevent a tragedy in your own life. It’s up to you to change your own lifestyle and to inform your loved ones. This is our 11th year doing the Heart Walk and I still believe in this cause very much. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss my father.
This is why it is so important to continue to advocate and spread the word by supporting the American Heart Association. The AHA does an amazing job of not only providing education, but specifically funding the research that allows more people each day to be heart healthy. It’s because of this, that I’m so heavily invested in the work of the AHA. Devoting my time and money is beyond worth it, because I believe in the organization and its mission.
Since joining the Community Teams Committee at the AHA, I’ve met so many wonderful people who are equally as passionate about raising heart health awareness. While I’ve only met a few who share my story, I’ve met MANY who are survivors.
Today, I’m asking you to donate so that we can have more survivors. So that some other 19 year old doesn’t lose her hero, her father. Donating even a small amount could mean saving one life - isn’t it worth it?? I’m also asking you to reflect on your lifestyle choices. Are you being proactive enough in protecting your heart? If not, start making better decisions right now.
I have faith that together, we can avoid these tragedies and make healthier, longer lives possible for everyone. Thanks for your support to me and my family and most importantly for remembering Joe.
With heart, Shauna K