By Matt Lindner
The call that completely turned my world upside down came when I was at a bar in Chicago after a playoff hockey game.
“Matt,” my sister said, “Mom had a stroke and we need to go out to the suburbs now.”
We didn’t know it at the time, but my mom had fallen into a coma that she would never come out of. Five days later, just after Mother’s Day 2014, my mom wound up passing away.
It has been five years since that fateful phone call, and that’s why I’m running the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon for the American Heart Association – which, ironically enough, will be my fifth marathon overall.
I’m running for the American Heart Association to honor my mom’s memory and to raise awareness so that other families don’t have to go through what we went through five years ago.
My mom was my best friend and the reason why I get up before dawn every morning to watch the sun rise. She always enjoyed the peace and calm of the mornings, of getting a head start on the rest of her day while the rest of the world was still asleep. She also went out of her way to make everyone she encountered feel special, remembering every detail of every student she encountered during her career as a secretary at a pair of elementary schools in my hometown.
My mom didn’t show any warning signs of a potential stroke. Hers just came out of nowhere. And what I didn’t know at the time is that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke if the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Further, six in ten people who die from stroke are women, according to the CDC.
That’s why it’s important for people to educate themselves on the warning signs of a stroke so that they know what to look for and when to act. The American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, recommends that you keep the acronym FAST in mind in order to help you spot signs of stroke so that you know when to call 9-1-1. Knowing these symptoms by heart can help you act fast in the event that you or someone you’re with is having a stroke and could potentially save a life.
My mom’s mission in her 64 years on earth was to make others feel valued regardless of their position in life and make the world a better place. I’m hoping to carry on that legacy by raising money so that more people can live longer and heart healthy lives.
For more information about why I’m running the TCS New York City Marathon for the American Heart Association or to donate please visit www.ahanycmarathon.org
Diego is the Communications Director for the American Heart Association in New York City. He loves sharing powerful stories that inspire people to take control of their health.