America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk Co-Director Jim Stasaitis has a new outlook on this year’s event.
I have an important message for everyone who has been part of America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk: you saved my life. Thank you from the bottom of my mended heart.
I have been volunteering with the Heart Run & Walk for the past 30 years. This year, though, the walk means a little more for me. Five months ago, I had a heart attack!
I was on vacation with my wife Jan and a man some of you might remember – Dick Mattia, the former Executive Director of the Greater Utica American Heart Association – when I started feeling some chest pain. I might have just brushed it off, but both Jan and Dick wouldn’t let me. They told me that after all my years working with the American Heart Association, I knew better than to pretend it was nothing.
When I got home, I followed their advice. I went to the hospital, and it turned out I had a 99% blockage of my left anterior descending artery. It’s what they commonly call the widow-maker because it’s almost always fatal. While doctors were installing a stent, I had a heart attack on the table.
Now, just a few months later, I’m getting ready for another America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk. This time around, I will be among the survivors who are still around to celebrate their victory over heart disease and be part of the event because of the amazing work of everyone involved with it.
I want to thank you all. You’re the reason I’m still here. I’m living proof that your donations can save lives. Money raised at events like the Heart Run & Walk have help fund medical breakthroughs like the stent doctors put inside my chest. Your fundraising has helped the American Heart Association work with doctors and hospitals to ensure patients like me are treated according to the most up-to-date guidelines.
Without America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk, I probably would have gone home and mowed the lawn. I probably would have had that heart attack alone in my backyard. I wouldn’t be here now. You saved my life. Thank you.