2014 Greater Orlando Heart Walk

This year’s Greater Orlando Heart Walk was another success! First off, thank you to everyone who helped me reach my fundraising goal. I raised $500 total!

Money, money, MONEY!

This year I did something a little different. I volunteered with the Passion Committee! Instead of getting there right before the Walk began, I was able to drag my tired behind out of bed at 3:30 AM and report to duty at the Advocacy tent! Along with a few other Passion Committee ladies we got people to sign postcards for elected officials regarding the lack of CPR as a graduation requirement here in Florida. I got to speak to other survivors, family members, even high school students who were in support of the change. We obviously were the coolest tent EVER because we had temporary tattoos. Hotness.

You’re The Cure…you’re obviously b@da$$ too
It’s amazing my eyes were this open at 5 AM
Finally, the sun rose in the sky and people flooded the UCF campus including my loves, Lina & Jo. This was Lina’s first Heart Walk! Jo is no stranger on this blog either. As I’ve said before, he walked in memory of his mother who died from a heart attack in 2009 and then helped me survive mine. He even rocked his heart guardian tee I got him.
My lovers for the morning

And we’re off! 3 miles in the hot Florida sun. I’m used to the mileage, but we always run before the sun comes up so this was brutal. But we made it through. Another successful Walk!

Let’s do this!

Almost done! Must. Have. Breakfast.

Until next year!

Heart Walk!

What a change from last year to this year! Last year: crying, tired, depressed. This year: proudly wore my red cap, laughed and enjoyed the day instead of being a hot mess.
If someone had told me last year that at the next Heart Walk I would’ve been PROUD to be a survivor, I literally would’ve laughed in their face. Well, more like scoffed since I wasn’t laughing a lot last year. I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be in this place. 
If I can do it, so can you. 
Who’s that proud chick rockin’ her red cap? Whoa, it’s me.
The most amazing friends anyone can ask for. They were there last year, and again this year. Amazing.
Thanks UCF and AHA…you rock.

The 2013 Greater Orlando Heart Walk

It’s that time again folks! Time for the 2013 Greater Orlando Heart Walk! Another opportunity to give back and raise awareness. This year I will have such a different perspective. Last year at this time I was still emotionally fragile. I was anxious and depressed, just trying to make it from week to week. This year I feel an immense amount of optimism and gratitude. Time to celebrate, baby! Please take a moment and pledge a buck or 2!

Heart Walk SWAG

After participating in and raising money for the Greater Orlando Heart Walk, I got to pick my kick-booty prize. I didn’t want some product that could slice, dice and puree…I wanted a Heart Walk hoodie. I was never in it for the prizes (duh) but I definitely wanted something that would remind me of this experience and how I felt. I also wanted something that would spread the word if I was wearing it. I was super excited when it arrived on Friday, along with my Walk t-shirt! Check out the SWAG! ♥



My day didn’t end with the Greater Orlando Heart Walk. Oh, no it was just beginning! I still was scheduled to attend the Central Florida Blogger’s Conference (CFLBlogCon). I definitely thought I was going to be a fish out of water at this event. I have only been blogging since February and the whole penny I’ve made from my measly advertisements wouldn’t allow me to quit my job and swim in a Scrooge McDuck money pit. So I worried I would have nothing to say and be surrounded by bloggers who were at the top of their game. All I really wanted to get out of the conference was to figure out how to reach more readers and where I should go from here. Science Center here I come! I guess I should preface this post by saying that I wrote 2 entries about the Greater Orlando Heart Walk and submitted them for the CFLBlogCon/Rollins College “Blogging For Good” contest. There were 5 organizations you could blog about and there was a $100 prize for one from each organization plus one person would win an iPad.

Entering the unknown.

Oh yeah, that’s the one.

So I started out the day by stripping in my car and changing into something a little more conference appropriate and then going to the keynote speech. Here was my schedule after that. After going to these amazing sessions I am working on getting this baby up to snuff with a Media Kit and Twitter.

Media Kit session was exactly what I needed! On to lunch.
There was a serious amount of paella for lunch. Those silver serving vats in the background? Paella. And Yams.
Ok don’t hate me but I skipped the last 3 sessions to get a chair massage and to check out other people’s blogs online. Totally worth it.
Frankly, the reason I even signed up for this conference was for the “Blogging for a Cause” session. It was presented by Laura, who blogs about her experience with and advocacy for Spina Bifida. Her blog, holdinoutforahero.org, is amazing. I got a chance to talk to her and pick her brain a little. Totally worth my conference fee.
After the sessions we had niche breakout sessions. I ended up networking with employees from Rollins, Second Harvest Food Bank, Orange County Library, and Arnold Palmer Childrens Hospital. Fantastic ideas, fantastic people. All in all a successful day. 2 offers to guest blog on someone else’s blog, and an offer for a speaking event. Then came the after party…
P.S. At this point of the day I was in desperate need of a nap.

So the last order of business was the after party. Guess who has 2 thumbs and won the Greater Orlando Heart Walk blog award? THIS GIRL! So I walked away from the day with $100 card, new friends, new networking contacts and an idea for a book…successful day? I’d say so. ♥  
As they say on Cribs, this is where the magic happens. 😉

Greater Orlando Heart Walk

The day finally arrived! Yesterday was the Greater Orlando Heart Walk! I have been fundraising like crazy and ended up with a grand total of $765.00! Not bad, not bad! 

As I previously said in a post, this event has given me a little agita since I signed up for it. I worried that I would be emotional but really this Walk turned out to be the best thing for me. There were over 20,000 walkers and you could almost feel the happiness and inspiration everyone walked with. The weight of this event quickly went away when I saw my amazing friends who walked to support me and to honor family members that were taken too soon. We looked adorable.

The crew. L-R: me, Jessica, Amanda, Jo, Leah, Amy, Elie, Kathleen
My survivor hat.

My awesome custom t-shirt. It got tons of looks.
The back. Pardon the sweat…it was a hot morning in CFL.
Amanda and Jo rocked their heart guardian shirts.
Ok, let’s do this!

So we walked. We did a lot of laughing, crying, swearing, sweating and general foolishness. We even stopped at 7-11 for slurpees. For once I didn’t feel like I stuck out for a bad reason, or that I was weak. It was actually kind of empowering. If you tell my therapist I said this, I will deny it. Ha. I knew I was going to have a sign on the walk with my name and picture on it so we kept our eyes open. Right around 2 miles, there it was!

Me and…me. Plus my slurpee (sugar free folks, don’t get it twisted).
Me and my heart guardians. Jo raised $865.00!
I had decided a couple of weeks ago that I wanted to do something to honor loved ones that weren’t able to go on the walk. So I got candles for Jo’s mom and grandmother and Kathleen’s father. Then I gave them the same scents to take home. Here I am trying to set fire to the neighborhood.

Don’t tell Smokey the Bear.

In honor of them.
No caption needed.

So we kept walking. Through the beautiful neighborhoods of Orlando and towards the end…or was it the beginning. Maybe a little of both. ♥

At one point we were at the end of the pack. Y’know I love a good cop reference.
Central Florida Accordian Club…rock on my Eastern Euro brotha.

The Roller Coaster of Recovery

I swear I’m not bitter. Let me begin by saying that. Tuesday I ran 3 miles with Kathleen. That’s my total for this week…3. Yup. Wednesday night I came home after a relaxing mani/pedi to the entrance to my apartment complex being under 2 feet of water so I didn’t get home until 11:00 and then I had to get some work done. So forget getting up at the butt crack of dawn to run on Thursday. Today I decided my body needed more sleep than running so I bailed. Not a great week for mileage but that’s ok.

Did I mention I’m not bitter? Tuesday’s run…*BEEP BEEP*…was…*BEEP BEEP*…full of…*BEEP BEEP* …beeps. I was cursing at my heart monitor every 5 minutes. I went from having a great run last Saturday where my heart rate monitor didn’t even shudder to Tuesday’s 3 miles of beeping (insert beeeep for what came out of my mouth every time it happened as well). So I was a little discouraged, but definitely not bitter. 😉

This week I have so much to look forward to. Plans with amazing friends, the Central Florida Bloggers Conference, and THE GREATER ORLANDO HEART WALK! T-minus 1 week! I’ve met my fundraising goal (although donations are always welcome…hint hint) and now all I have to do is walk. I am a little nervous. I don’t know what kind of emotional reaction I will have next Saturday. It’s going to break my heart to hear stories of people who didn’t make it through their heart disease or heart attack and that sense of guilt has been problematic for me from the beginning. Why did I make it and others didn’t? It’s a question I often have on my mind.

Another thing I am nervous about is the sign that will be posted on the Walk. The American Heart Association-Orlando Chapter asked for my story and picture, which will be on a sign posted somewhere on the Walk. It’s going to be so strange to see myself on that sign. I don’t like to think of myself as a survivor, I still have trouble with that word. So wearing a survivor hat, being on a survivor sign is going to be uncomfortable for me.

Also, my friend Jo is doing the Walk as well. He lost both his grandmother and his mother to heart disease. I knew Jo’s mom for a long time, we’ve been friends since we were teenagers. Watching him lose his mother was terrible. They were extremely close and she was an amazing woman. So when I had my heart attacks, I felt bad that he had to go through some of those emotions all over again. Walking with him will be comforting and heart breaking at the same time.

So we Walk. We Walk so that there is money for research and education. This money will go towards educating others about the warning signs of heart attacks and provide information about healthy eating and making healthy choices. We are helping to fund research on ground breaking medications and technologies that could save someone’s life. Doctors will be able to receive information that could change the face of these diseases. So we Walk.

If you haven’t already, please make a donation or sign up to Walk. Let’s advocate for better health, remember lost loved ones and celebrate that we are still here. ♥

Please donate!

My awesome shirt that I made online. Can’t wait to wear it:)