My dad passed away at 44, leaving behind my mom with three kids under the age of three. I was three when he died, and, as a result, my memories of him are limited. His association with the Chicago Marathon is the strongest connection I have to his memory — in ways both good and bad. In response to his hyperlipidemia diagnosis, he signed up for the Chicago Marathon and took up running in 1999. His framed completion time looked down on us from our basement's glass block window ledge as we grew up, and one of my favorite pictures shows him grinning and flashing a double thumbs-up at the camera while running the race. Unfortunately, it was a jog that brought on a sudden heart attack that ultimately ended his life the following year.
I am running the 2023 Chicago Marathon in his memory.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and the AHA is the leading organization dedicated to heart health. I have experienced the impact of the AHA's efforts firsthand: the AHA is the loudest proponent of early cardiovascular health screening — neglected in my dad's case — and my cardiologist is an AHA fellow. More broadly, the AHA establishes care guidelines for cardiovascular health and prevention with the American College of Cardiology and funds critical research that will extend the time sons and daughters will have with their parents.
See you at the finish line, dad.