Most of you know my story. It was April, 2002, I was 3 months pregnant with my son and Chris, Erika and I went to Myrtle Beach with my brother and his family and my parents for our annual vacation. We were there less than 2 days when we got a phone call; Chris’ mother had a massive heart attack and died. She was just 60 years old and in good health, it couldn’t be possible. We packed up, said goodbye to my family and headed back home. My father was a minister and was asked to do my mother-in-law’s service. While at the calling hours, I wondered where my parents were. As I left the funeral home, I got another horrible call; my father had a massive stroke and was in the hospital.
This was such a heart wrenching time for Chris and I. We missed the second of his mother’s calling hours to drive 2 hours to the hospital where my father was, finding him unresponsive and on a ventilator. My father died 3 months later, never able to move or communicate. This was such a scary, sad time in our lives and I truly didn’t understand it. I felt lost.
Fast forward 4 years…. I’d found comfort in food and had maxed out at 207 pounds. I got a postcard in the mail from the American Stroke Association, a subsidiary of the American Heart Association, which stated: Train to End Stoke. That postcard saved my lifeJ I felt like I could do something. I could make a difference. I could find comfort. And I did….. in running. I trained hard, going from 3 miles to completing 26.2 in 4 months and I raised over $7,000, learning a whole lot about myself in the process.
The Heart Association is hosting its annual Heart Walk and 5K this weekend. My husband and I and the kids will be walking this Saturday in memory of my father and my mother in law. My mother in law died April 15th, my father’s stroke was April 18th, so doing this walk on April 16th will have even more meaning for us. I’d like to invite you to join the Running with Kelly team and walk with us or run the 5k. Do it in memory or in honor of someone you love. Know the warning signs of stroke and heart attack. Take ownership of the things you can do to live a long and healthy life. And share that information with those around you. Together we can make a difference!