My 'why' started out as my mom.
Around 2010 I started seeing subtle changes in my mom's behavior. I easily excused them as being normal as we got older, but my son, who was then 7 years old, brought the changes to my attention. He noticed that she was driving faster than normal. He noticed that she would wait until the last minute to stop or to turn to where she was going. He was scared to ride with her, when my entire life she was the safest driver I knew. We traveled regularly by car, and she never had an accident or a ticket in her 75+ years of living.
Then, I let her drive one day with me in the van. It was terrifying. At the same time, she was also having trouble walking. I figured that it wasn't necessarily her eyes or her reaction time - it was her ability to mobilize her legs and feet. Soon, very soon after that day in the van, she started falling. She couldn't balance herself. Eventually, she lost her ability to walk. Doctors said that the inability to walk was a side affect of her congestive heart failure mixed with dementia. Decades of high blood pressure, inconsistent activity, poor eating habits and lack of self-priority were the roots of her heart disease. One pill led to three more pills, which then led to more than 20 prescription pills being subscribed to her to manage (I use the term 'mask') her disease.
That was my original why. Why I walked. Why I got in between 500-1000 miles every year at walks just like this one. I walked because Mom could not.
I lost my best friend, Mom, in 2017.
I realize now that walking for heart health means more than just walking because my mom couldn't walk. It means walking for your mom. My best friend's mom. My mother-in-law. My sisters-in-law. And, it's me.
I HAVE to walk. I HAVE to move.
I have to be vigilant in finding a solution to heart disease, and I have to get others talking and walking to end this terrible disease. It literally sucked the life out of a vibrant, joyful woman who loved to travel, who was adventurous, who loved serving people, and who would give them shirt off her back, and I watched it all.
I don't want that to happen to anyone else. It changes a person.
So my 'why' is now me. My 'why' is my husband. My 'why' is my son. My 'why' is my future daughter-in-law (whoever that will be), and grandbabies! My 'why' is family and friends. It's their mom and their dad.
Walk with me on April 24th. Or, just give to the research and to the cause. Or, purchase this year's team t-shirt, designed by myself using original ShelleyKempArt, to promote heart and stroke awareness. Let's do this together!