This is my 13th year fundraising for the Heart Walk.
I'm not sure there are many people in my life who don't know my story. I guess though each year as I write it out and figure out different ways to share it and summarize it without losing any of the importance, it is kind of therapeutic. So whether you have heard this a thousand times or maybe never at all, I ask you to indulge me and consider supporting this cause that means more to me than anything else in the world.
December 5, 1997 - the worst day of my life. I was laying in bed in my dorm room and heard a knock on the door. I whined to my roommate that it was probably my study partner for my music theory class arriving early and I was dreading it. As the door opened though I was surprised as my sister walked through the door. I was so excited to see her I jumped out of bed and attacked her with a huge hug. She squeezed me tight, tighter than she probably ever had before and I thought "Wow, she must have really missed me." She sat me down on my bed and said the two worst words I had ever heard, "dad died." I was 20 years old and my entire world shattered in that one instance. He died from cardiac arrhythmia, his heart just stopped beating. His death was incredibly unexpected. He was 58 and just a couple weeks prior had run his very first half marathon in the same town I was going to school. He has been gone 21 years now which is an impossible thing to wrap my head around. There is so much more to say and share but far too much to write. If you want to learn more about what happened in the days, weeks, years following I would love to have that conversation with you. His life is one of my very favorite things to talk about.
May 4, 2014 - the second worst day of my life. That day started out so fun. I was helping out my friend Jennifer by managing the stage at March for Babies. The energy at the Power & Light district was amazing and I was having so much fun reliving my days as the March of Dimes communications director. I was catching up with old volunteers and mission families who had become friends over the years when I received unimaginable news. My dear sweet friend Barney Walsh, my mentor, my selfie partner had died unexpectedly that morning. For what seemed like a very long time, I just stood their unable to process what was happening and something very irrational inside of me tried to convince me that it was a mistake. Later that day we all gathered at Barney's house to support his wife - our friend Sarah and their son 8 year old son, Seamus (Shea.) I can't begin to explain what the following days, weeks and months (and honestly, years) were like. A few weeks in we found out that he died from an Aortic Dissection, another person I loved now lost from Cardiovascular Disease. Now here we are five years later. Five years that at times we didn't think we could make it through. Five years without this man who meant the world to so many of us. Sarah and Shea are living their life. I'm not going to say that every day is easy but every day they are putting one foot in front of another. They are living through their grief with grace, love, and beautiful memories of Barney.
I am sure you can see now why raising money for the American Heart Association is so important to me. It is why I have committed to raising $10,000. I am terrified about trying to hit that number but I know that with your help I can make it! Thank you all for reading and I hope you will consider donating.