When you spend your professional hours focused on illness, death and taxes, you want your non-work hours to be as positive and as fulfilling as possible. So, when I have a chance to be both healthy and charitable at the same time it is a win win.
There are countless worthy causes in this world, but there is only one for which I solicit donations. The American Heart Association's Annual Heart Walk. Held in October, I have been walking for upwards of 15 years. The impetus for my devotion to this walk was formed in the fall of 1991. Having just entered my freshmen year at the University of Wisconsin, I got a call one Friday morning from my dad. Instantly I knew something was wrong; my mother was at the hospital with an apparent heart attack. She was only 47. As heart attacks go, it was not as bad as it could be, but it was still a heart attack. That same worry was heard in my father's voice seventeen years later when I got a similar call. This time she had passed out at home. An ambulance was called and the doctors were saying a pacemaker was needed. Both of my parents were scared and told the doctors "talk with our daughter, see what she says". The call came around 6:30pm that night. In no uncertain terms, the physician on the other end of the line said "mama, I don't want to be dramatic here, but your mother nearly died today. Her heart is going too slow. She needs this pacemaker, and she needs it now". I didn't waiver and said prep for surgery. At the time I was 7 1/2 months pregnant with my first child. The moment stands out like crystal in a cabinet. Her procedure was scheduled for the next morning, but she didn't make it through the night before her heart slowed once again. An external pacemaker was set up until she went into surgery. That was four years ago. And my mom is still with us. She lived to meet her first grandchild, a boy, and a granddaughter who joined the family in 2010. Sadly, my father died in 2009, never meeting his only granddaughter.
As you can probably tell, I have a self-interest in seeing the American Heart Association succeed in education, outreach, and research. Advancements in cardiac care have kept my mother alive. Help me help others, and make a contribution to my 2013 walk. You can pledge on-line or send a check payable to AHA (mail to my office, 313 Price Place, Suite 204, Madison, WI, 53705). My goal is to raise $500 (that breaks down to $10 from 50 people). If you can't donate, consider walking in your local Heart Walk. Support does make a difference in the lives of many.