Happy New Year all! It certainly has been a while and I apologize for that. I don’t really have any excuses but I am ready to get back up and blogging again weekly!  I hope everyone had an amazing holiday and a Happy Near Year!  If you set a New Year’s resolution, I hope you still have it going….

I am currently blogging from somewhere in Virginia…well….today went a bit differently than I envisioned it going.  I have a conference scheduled in Savannah, GA being put on by an amazing foundation called Parent Heart Watch.  My close friend Matt, also one of the board members of In A Heartbeat, booked a flight to come out with me.  Well, both of our flights got delayed, and delayed, and delayed and eventually cancelled.  So we decided to rent a car and drive 13 hours south to Savannah.  Only 7 hours to go!

I have been looking forward to this conference for a long time.  Parent Heart Watch does a lot of work supporting the issue of sudden cardiac arrest in youth.  When I suffered my cardiac arrest at the age of 17, my family and I didn’t really know what to do.  We didn’t even think an apparently healthy, athletic, 17-year-old, could have something wrong with heart, let alone think it would affect our family.  During my stay in the hospital, my mom found Parent Heart Watch online.  When we were looking for support, they provided support.  When we were looking for information, they empowered us with knowledge.  Parent Heart Watch helped us move on following this trauma.

A few months ago, before going to sleep I was checking my email.  I have sick obsession with checking email.  It really isn’t healthy but I do have a fear of missing something important and not responding to people quickly.  Anyway, it was 1:01 a.m. when I got one of the most humbling and proud emails I have ever received.  By the way, I told you I have an email issue (1:01 in the morning…who does that?!).

The message was from the Executive Director of Parent Heart Watch, someone I deeply admire.  She was emailing to tell me that I had been nominated for the 2018 PHW Hero for Young Hearts Advocacy Champion for Adults.

My first reaction was WOW!  I wasn’t even sure I really deserved this award at this point in time, but I did feel blessed to have been chosen.  What an honor!  It was a tribute to the amount of work we have done with In A Heartbeat in just two years.

Upon receiving this email, I had an opportunity to think back about this long 11-year journey I have been on since going into cardiac arrest when I was 17.  When I walked in the door after returning home from the hospital is was a very confusing time in my life.  My dreams to play college basketball were over.  I would never play basketball again.  Basketball consumed a huge portion of my life and now it was gone.  What now?

The first thing my parents did when I got home and settled in was take me to meet the man who saved my life along with the EMT’s who came along to shock me with the AED.  This was an amazing and emotional experience.

A couple of days later, I was sitting in my room, and my mom came in and said she had set up a meeting with the American Heart Association.  Being a typical 17-year-old that always wants to argue with their parents, I didn’t want to go.  I felt as though we had gone through this, it was over, and what good was the American Heart Association going to be to us?  My mom then said something to me that changed my life.  She said, “I don’t think you understand the impact you can have on other people.  I don’t think you understand that by sharing your story, raising awareness of cardiac arrest and the importance of CPR and AED’s, you can save lives!”

This was the first time I realized that I could make a difference.  I agreed to the meeting and signed up to be a volunteer/spokesperson for the American Heart Association.  We started raising money, participating in heart walks, lobbying at the capitol building for laws to get passed, and even attended a couple lobby days in Washington D.C.

In the meantime, my family, my friends, and I starting talking about starting our own foundation.  We finally started In A Heartbeat in 2015 and we haven’t looked back.  It is amazing to think that I will be accepting an award for the work we have done.

I know I have talked a lot about myself in this blog post, but the message I want to send is that we all have the opportunity to make an impact on every person we meet every single day.  We all have life experiences that have shaped us into the people we have become.  Now, were not going to change a life every single day, but we can still have a positive impact every day, whether it is a big impact or a small impact.

Think about that as you meet people and as you are surrounded by family and friends.  Think about positively impacting their life!

Ok, my turn to take over the wheel….I promise I will be back again next week…..but until then….

You’re amazing!