On April 27th, 2013, I celebrated my fifth anniversary of surviving a cardiac arrest. Five years ago, my daughter and husband watched as I almost lost my life. The plans changed from a birthday celebration for my daughter to a horrific scene that she will never forget. I helplessly listened to my daughter's cries and my husband's prayers knowing that I was dying. All I wanted to do was wrap my arms around them and assure them I would be alright. No matter how hard I tried, words would not come and I couldn't move. Against all odds I survived.
I couldn't help but wonder why I had a second chance. It soon became obvious that I was alive to prevent the needless deaths of women. As a motivational speaker, I began to use my skills by spreading the message of awareness and prevention of heart disease with the help of the American Heart Association, Regina Pauley and their Speakers Bureau. With great honor, Amy Dwyer asked me to share my story via video which was played at the Go Red for Women Luncheon in 2009. Soon after I wrote a book called Live To Dance.
Last Spring I added the word lobbyist to my "Live It" list. What a wonderful experience! I spent two amazing days in Washington D.C. with the American Heart Association Advocacy Department under the direction of Christy Dreiling. I attended my first rally for Medical Research. We listened as survivors of cancer, aids, stroke and heart disease share their story and the value of research. The next day I became a lobbyist by sharing my story with Senator Claire McCaskill, Senator Roy Blunt and Representative Ann Wagner while asking them to restore 32 billion dollars so that the National Institute of Health could get back on track. Without the help of research I wouldn't be alive today. I also asked for 35 million dollars to support the Million Hearts initiative. Million hearts is a national public educational campaign targeted at the more than one in three Americans who have uncontrolled blood pressure. Education is crucial and can help prevent the needless deaths of many.
Since 2008, I have headed up my own team for the Heart Walk. This year I was a co-captain with Michelle Shanus representing the Emergency Room at Missouri Baptist. Michelle is an R.N. for the emergency room that helped to resuscitate me. Need I say more about what this meant to me?
Currently, I volunteer as a member of the survivor committee under the direction of Rachelle Bartnick. As a group we were featured on billboards in St. Louis this last February for heart month. I never imagined that I would be on a billboard!
I am a passionate woman who wants to make a difference in the lives of others. Thank you American Heart Association for allowing me to do just that!
Life is good!Ellen