Four years ago, I was on a ski trip with some of my old friends from Monroeville.
Out of nowhere, Ken Schafer asks me if I had heard about the free tests being done at the Cleveland Clinic for participants in a research study.
Bottom line: I checked into it and the free echocardiogram I received there disclosed a bad heart valve I would have never known about otherwise. Two years later that valve and some other bad heart plumbing they discovered was replaced.
It is not an exaggeration to say that my ski trip conversation with Ken Schafer saved my life.
Every time I see him now I say thank you.
He’s a modest guy and always shrugs off my thanks.
But there is no getting around the fact that something he said to me there in the Idaho mountains made it possible for me to be walking around here in 2018, enjoying sunrises and sunsets and grandchildren and sweet corn and everything else that we call life.
I am very grateful.
But also a teenie bit jealous. Like my friend Ken Schafer, I would love to be able to say I, too, did something that contributed to saving the life of another human being.
That’s one reason I agreed to be the honorary chairman for this year’s Healthy Hearts 5K Run/Walk and Miracle Mile event. Maybe if I talk it up and get you or someone you know to participate — who knows? — maybe their newly-raised heart awareness will save someone’s life.
The other reason I agreed to the honorary chairmanship of the event (held Saturday morning, Sept. 8) is that I participated last year (as a civilian, not honorary chairman) and had a lot of fun. I am guessing that if I can get you to show up you’ll like it, too.
All kinds of people have issues with their heart. If you doubt it, drive slowly past the cardiac rehab unit at Fisher-Titus and peek in the windows. First, you will notice that it is a beehive of activity every weekday. Second, you will probably see someone you know; in fact, if you pick the right day and time for your window peeping you will see ME performing some slightly aerobic activity.
All of us in there have had something happen that caused us to stop taking our amazing hearts for granted. Some, like me, have had a simple valve job. Others have been brought back from a heart attack that put them at death’s door. Many of us have a long scar down our sternums that provided our surgeons access to our precious hearts.
Unfortunately, the Heart Problem Club is not very exclusive — just about anybody can get in — but the membership fee is staggering.
But enough of the negative stuff. I’m mostly trying to get you to come out and take a walk (or jog or run, if you like) with me and a bunch of nice folks. If you can walk as little as one mile, you can participate and help a good cause.
Last year there were over 100 of us. But we have room for at least a hundred more. The event is held at Summit Motorsports Park which, in itself, is fun. The course runs alongside the famous quarter mile racetrack and then rambles off into the wooded, park-like setting. Eventually, it circles back to the finish line under the grandstand.
If you are into winning awards, they have them for the top two finishers in 14 age categories and for the fastest five walkers.
Or if, like me, you feel amply rewarded by simply completing the course (I have no idea what my time was last year) and enjoying the fellowship of the participants, you have two choices.
One: you can register for the 5K Run/Walk event ($20 if you sign up by Aug. 15 — this also guarantees you a tee shirt which may not be available if you register on race morning). If you can walk for 45 minutes or so, you will have no problem completing the 5K. And there will be tons of supportive participants and Fisher-Titus staff nearby the whole way.
Or two: put together a team (i.e. a bunch of your friends) to walk the Miracle Mile course. There is no registration fee, but each team is expected to secure donations for the Fisher-Titus Heart fund. Details for all of this can be found online at fishertitus.org/healthyhearts.
All the money raised from registration fees and donations is spent locally “to improve the cardiovascular health of our community.”
It may not be the equivalent of saving an individual life. But it will be more than enough to satisfy the needs of the honorary chairman of this year’s 5K Run/Walk and Miracle Mile event.
Really, come out and have some fun with us on Sept. 8. Together maybe we can save some lives.
Jim Busek is a freelance writer who lives in Norwalk. He can be reached via email at jim[email protected]mail.com.