Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States? It kills more people each year than all types of cancer combined. I didn’t realize that until I got involved with the American Heart Association. Now I’m learning all kinds of things.

I recently connected with Jackie McMahon, Senior Development Director for the American Heart Association Kansas City. I’d posted something on Facebook about it being 18 months since I’d gotten my new heart and the gift of life. She saw my post and contacted me right away, saying, “We gotta talk.” That’s when she asked if I’d be interested in getting involved with the American Heart Association. I said yes. 

It wasn’t a hard decision. I have a lot of experience with heart issues. Five years ago, I ended up in the hospital with an infection that impacted my heart. By the time I arrived at the hospital, my heart was so damaged it was barely functioning. I was put on an LVAD immediately — a Left Ventricular Assist Device — that basically kept me alive without a functioning heart. Once the LVAD was installed, I no longer had a heartbeat. The LVAD kept blood circulating through my organs to keep me alive while I waited for a heart transplant.

It’s a challenge to go about daily life connected to a machine that needs to be charged all the time. But I did it. Because what choice did I have? I felt lucky just to be alive.

Because of that, I’ve volunteered for every research opportunity offered during my hospital stays. I figure if the doctors learn something new through my challenge that benefits others, that’s a win.

Now, after six open heart surgeries to fix, adjust, or add things, I’m on my feet yet again and ready to get involved in the community that has supported me throughout this ordeal. That’s when the American Heart Association of Kansas City, Missouri came calling. It’s a perfect fit.

The American Heart Association is an international health organization that aims to improve heart health and reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke. Part of the mission includes public education. Increasing awareness of the causes of heart disease and stroke, recognizing the symptoms, and teaching people how to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle are top goals of the AHA. The organization also raises money to fund scientific research, discover new life-saving technologies, and reduce deaths from these conditions.

I feel honored and blessed to be associated with this worthy organization. My company, Shamrock Roofing, is now a proud Life is Why supporter. The Life is Why campaign inspires people to celebrate their reasons for choosing a healthier lifestyle by donating to the AHA. Funds raised through the Life is Why campaign go toward impacting high-risk factors for heart disease, such as tobacco use and vaping, high blood pressure, food availability, and mental health. To make your impact through Shamrock’s campaign, visit our website and click on the AHA logo.

I’ve also been invited to be the featured speaker at the 2023 Kansas City Heart Ball. I’m looking forward to sharing my story with a larger audience, one filled with open-hearted people who believe in using their resources to make a difference. The Heart Ball is more than just a fundraising event. It’s also an opportunity to recognize the collective success of the AHA and its supporters in driving change, raising money for research, and driving new behaviors in the general public. Heroes are celebrated at this event, whether they’re survivors of heart disease or stroke, volunteers, or corporate sponsors. I’ll have a chance to tell my story and hopefully inspire others to get involved in whatever way they feel led. 

The 2023 Kansas City Heart Ball will take place at 6:00 pm on February 25 at Loews Kansas City Hotel. To donate, click here. To become a sponsor, click here.

Next year marks the centennial of the American Heart Association, and I’m looking forward to getting even more involved as a chairman of the organization. I’ll be helping plan events that support the mission. I’ll also be taking my story on the road, meeting people, getting to know them, and sharing ways I’ve benefited from some of the breakthroughs, research, and technologies funded by the AHA. It’ll be an exciting year!

I love running a business and seeing how far I can take it from a growth perspective. But even more than that, I love giving back to my community, whether I’m giving away a roof through Shamrock’s Roofs 4 Heroes program, giving a car away with the Car Santa and Cars 4 Heroes, or embracing my new role as chairman of the Kansas City American Heart Association. Giving back makes my heart happy. And I’ll take all the help I can get!

To get involved in any of these organizations, contact me here.