Friday, May 06, 2011

Special Post: AHA Breakfast: Why sign up?

I do makes some folks nervous when I take a podium because a lot of the time I don't write out what I am going to say. Oh, don't get me wrong, I do write things down for events, but I learned years ago that if it comes from the heart and I truly love and care about it, it will usually come out alright. I just need to keep on track and not go on and on ( ya'll know that I am working on that one! LOL) Not to mention the fact that I have the "gift of the gab"(no ego there, just know a talent) As I said this morning, my mother said a long time ago..actually, I think even when I was little "as long as you have that mouth, you'll never starve!" LOL!

Anyway, the bad part about speaking impromptu is that I rarely remember what I say. But this morning was special. We had the annual kick off the Heart Walk for the business community for the CEO breakfast. My new role this year is the "community chair" and i am to recruit teams for the walk and to share my story about how I got involved and others can get their companies, employees and even their families and friends in with the heart walk. Well, I was sitting there at the table and something hit me and it just took off from there. I don't remember it word for word, but it came up in me pretty powerfully and it was special memories and feelings that came through it, so here goes trying to remember it:

My friend and one of my mentors Windell Daniels used to sign his name and then after each signature he would place three dots. We were at the conference table in the board room of the Housing Authority and he was signing something when I first noticed him doing that. I asked him why he was signing that way. He said that when he signed his name it was always followed with "the Father, the Son/ and the Holy Spirit"...thus the three dots. For him, everything he put his name to, he wanted to not only know that it was something he prayed was blessed, but he gave credit to God for as well and knew that it is where all he had came from.

Well, this morning, I was thinking about that I know too that all I have comes from a power much greater than myself who I choose to call and I know is God and while I was not trying to be blasphemous, I was thinking that my story was in many ways a story of three: A story of Sacrifice, A Story of Birth, and A story of Gifts.

The first was that of Sacrifice: it was at dinner at Port City Chop House. We were gathered together to celebrate the service of one of our fellow board members. Windell's wife Wilma had just given the prayer and in his usual, life filled way, Windell was leading the room and turning to have us all start with a table full of appetizers. In biblical terms, it was in the "blink of an eye" that I now hear that sound that I will never forget. It was a deafening "thud". I turned and their lay Windell at my foot. I know now, but would not accept then, that he was gone. A massive and complete heart attack. It was just that quick. And while we all rushed and choas insued trying to push life back where it had already left, he was gone.

But here is where my belief that there are no coincidences only gets more and more affirmed. After Windell passed, Jim Bryan from First Citizens called me and asked me to join the Executive Leadership Team of the American Heart Association. He also wanted me to bring Wilma Daniels on board and we would dedicate the Walk in Windell's honor. Here was the begining of a new chapter in my life. Through Windell's passing, I began to hear and see information that I had perhaps seen before, but I was hearing it in a much more intimate way. I was seeing it in a much more clear view. His death was bringing new site.

See, when he passed at my feet, remember I was 350 lbs, I was on three medications: diabetes, heart and cholesterol. My stress level was through the roof and the person I was least likely to take care of was me. I was begining to see, through his sacrifice that I had to change. In fact, I was led to Dr. Buchannan's office at Coastal Cardiology, and that is exactly what they told me. The only problem was that I just did not know HOW!

Little did I know that at the time all this was happening a birth was going on. An 1 lb miracle entered this world in Novemeber of 2008. Her name, Kayleigh Anne Freeman. She pushed through enormous obstacles to come to life and underwent over 248 different procedures. She became a beckon of hope for thousands and she was a point of suspension for worldly cares for her parents and so many others and became a lightening rod of focus on Faith, Love, and Hope. One of the most amazing things was that she was one of the smallest children EVER to undergo open heart surgery. Through the advances that have come from the work of the American Heart Association, this child was able to have this surgery and live. Her life was helping others to live give hope for others in the future. While she did not survive in physical form past May 11, 2009, she was a power of life and she transformed all those around her, particularly her Father, Adam.

That is where the gift comes in...Adam moved in Wilmington to begin a-new after Kayleigh passed and began working at O2 Fitness. His then wife Aimmee met some folks who told them to go see him about getting involved in the American Heart Associaton. It just so happened that my best female friend Ashley had become the corporate liasion for AHA and another dear friend Kristi Tomey, who had been trying to help teach me how to work out (but I was not following through) worked out at O2..and they conspired with Adam an idea. They would help someone in the community to change their lives as long as that person would pay it forward and help others.

So Adam, forever changed by the selfless love of his own daughter, so desperately wanting to give back, took me on for free and trained me as part fo a gift to the American Heart Association to show how to live a heart healthy life. 115 pounds later, learning how to live a life where I can run, be active, take care, do things I never dreamed of, be off medications, my life is forever transformed, and not only is Adam my trainer, he is the best friend I could have every prayed for outside my own marriage.

Now, tell me you still believe in coincidences...
But tell me that you don't want to be a part of something like the American Heart Association? These Walks, the things they do, the connections that are made, the life changes that happen, and the connections..they sound miraculous, but they really aren't. They are the kinds of things that happen because WE BELIEVE in each other enough and have FAITH that they can happen. Kayleigh's legacy is Faith, Love, and Hope..well, that is what all this is about too...We love ourselves and each other enought to want to be be heathly period. Faith is a cornerstone of that living and the bedrock of that life, and hope..every step of the way..there is hope that we can be healthier..and stay healthier and live good lives!

Please consider signing up for the Heart Walk of the Cape Fear or Donating for this October:
or even sponsoring:
Cape Fear Heart Walk

Well, as best I can remember, that was what I said. I ahve added some, cause I can't remember it all. But I hope everyone will join us!

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