Tabitha Ellis was born with a hole in her heart. At two years old she had heart surgery and a valve replacement. At 17, she suffered a mini stroke. Her experience taught her that heart disease and stroke do not discriminate based on your age or gender. As the 27-year-old puts it, it truly can happen to anyone at any time.
Today, Ellis is an award-winning actress, she was recently crowned Ms. New York American Coed, and she is an ambassador for the American Heart Association. She dedicates her talent and much of her free time toward raising awareness and funds to prevent heart disease and stroke.
On May 3, 2018, Ellis will lead the inaugural CycleNation event in New York City, which will take place at one of the most iconic settings in the country: the One World Trade Observatory. CycleNation NYC is an indoor stationary cycling event that is best described as “a party on a bike.” The event is designed to break the cycle of unhealthy behaviors, while raising funds for research, advocating for heart health and continuing the American Heart Association’s fight to end stroke.
“As a survivor, I know that physical activity like cycling can prevent heart disease and aid in faster recovery for stroke patients,” Ellis said. “I would be honored if all New Yorkers joined me on this important journey to end heart disease and stroke. Let’s have a good time inside a beautiful venue and support a truly lifesaving cause.”
Stroke is currently the number five killer and number one disabler of Americans. According to the American Heart Association, every year more than 800,000 people suffer a stroke and it claims more than 140,000 lives.
“I am blessed to be alive today in large part due to the research supported by the American Heart Association,” Ellis said. “But many are not as fortunate. Last year, in this country we lost someone to stroke approximately every four seconds. Surely, we can do better.”
While there is no quick fix, no easy way to instantly create a healthier community, the lifestyle changes one makes now might reduce their chances of experiencing a stroke. Understanding potential risk factors, like high blood pressure, poor diet, high cholesterol excess body weight and smoking could keep your stroke risks low, says the American Heart Association.
CycleNation is about encouraging New Yorkers of every age to take charge of their health and become more physically active.
“Growing up, sports were my way to not only survive but also thrive,” Ellis says. “I was always happiest and healthiest when I challenged myself to move more. Now, I am challenging my fellow New Yorkers to ride with me and save lives with me at CycleNation NYC!”
The American Heart Association is currently accepting applications for teams and individual riders to participate in the inaugural CycleNation NYC on May 3, 2018. For more information visit cyclenation.org/nyc or contact Tara Kleshefsky at [email protected].