Port Kembla Hospital nurse Kylie Strong will celebrate her father’s life as she pounds the pavements during the New York City Marathon as a member of the Heart Foundation team.
The clinical nurse specialist turned 41 on Friday – the same age as her father Jeff Goddard was when he had his first coronary artery bypass surgery, two years after his first heart attack.
Research and medical advancements kept him alive for more than two decades, and Mrs Strong knows the funds she raises for the Heart Foundation will help improve, and prolong, the lives of others with heart disease.
‘‘We enjoyed many more years with Dad due to the bypass surgery and the state-of-the-art pacemaker that was later fitted,’’ she said.
‘‘Dad’s experience motivated me to change my lifestyle – for many years I was overweight and a heavy smoker – and a marathon was one of the things I’d put on my bucket list.
‘‘When I found out the Heart Foundation was putting a team together, I realised I could achieve that goal and raise money for further research and development, too.
‘‘It was a perfect opportunity to support a great cause and celebrate Dad, who passed away four years ago.’’
Mrs Strong was one of just 20 Australians picked for the team, which will take on the 42-kilometre run on November2. She is already in training for the run of her life and said National Heart Week, from May 4 to 10, would provide her with some extra motivation.
The Illawarra Shoalhaven Health District is using the week to encourage people to recognise the warning signs of a heart attack, and reduce the risk of having one.
Director of cardiology Dr Astin Lee said people should use the week as an opportunity to make lifestyle changes.
‘‘While some risk factors are beyond our control, such as age and family history of heart disease, there are many changes people can make to improve their overall well-being and reduce the risk of having a heart attack,’’ Dr Lee said.
‘‘Healthy eating, being physically active and not smoking, or quitting if you do, are all key ways to maintain a healthy heart.’’
To help Mrs Strong reach her fund-raising goal of $7500, go to 2014newyorkmarathon. everydayhero.com/au/kylie