Though a chilly and rainy morning, more than 100 people gathered at Benedict Farm Park in Montgomery on May 20 for the annual Tri-County Heart walk.
The walk, which was chaired this year by Medline Director of Operations Tom Fallon, helps raise funds to support the American Heart Association (AHA). Those in attendance walked three miles, following white signs across Benedict Farm Park while sporting red AHA T-shirts.Though it’s free to walk, people are encouraged to make donations to the AHA.
Fallon, telling the story of Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin, noted why this event is so important. “It was only five months ago that 5 million viewers watched on TV the Buffalo Bill defender who collapsed on the field. He’s a young guy, in shape and everything else. It was the training of the American Heart Association and the employees and everything that saved his life,” said Fallon. Hamlin had suffered cardiac arrest on the field, but as of April, plans on returning to the NFL.
Fallon’s father had three strokes, which is what ultimately led him to his community work. “I got involved through my company supporting the American Heart Association. I love working in the community, giving back, helping and trying to make a difference,” said Fallon.
This year’s survivor honoree was Pat Spencer, a Montgomery resident who had open heart surgery in January.
When Spencer originally found out about the blockage in his heart, he was almost against having surgery out of concern for travel arrangements for his wife. Up until this year, there was not a local hospital to receive open heart surgery patients, so those with critical conditions would have to travel to New York City.
So, when Spencer found out he’d be the very first patient at Garnet Health’s new open-heart surgery program led by Medical Director Michael Argenziano, one of New York Magazine’s top doctors, he was thrilled.
“It’s an incredible team. I’m surviving because of them,” said Spencer when talking about the cardiothoracic surgery team at Garnet Health. “They made it very easy for me. It was so effortless. My only big thing was I had to go home for six weeks and hang out sedentary.”
Spencer’s doctor, Dr. Argenziano, applauded Spencer’s positive mindset in being their very first patient. “As you know, doing well in surgery or any kind of medical problem or process has to do with attitude. He’s got a positive attitude,” said Argenziano.
At the walk, heart disease survivors wore red hats and stroke survivors wore white hats. Children survivors wore capes. Of 170 registered for the walk, around 100 people showed up despite the rainy weather. Attendees gathered under the Benedict Park Pavillion before beginning the trek at 9 a.m.
Many AHA staff members came out to volunteer in orchestrating the event. On top of this, many local organizations also provided refreshments, music, support and more.
Dr. Argenziano, who joined in on the walk, spoke briefly to everyone at the event about the importance of monitoring heart health.
“The American Heart Association can only help one person at a time and even though we’re doing heart surgery at Garnet now, and we think that is a huge, great advance for the community, my goal would be not to have to do heart surgery, right? We would like to try to prevent heart disease before it happens. Now we’re going to keep saving people who have it, but we would like to use this as an opportunity to bring our community in, do screenings and make sure people are taking care of their diabetes, their blood pressure and make sure they’re not smoking, and they’re exercising,” said Dr. Argenziano.