Dear Editor,

For many, heart disease and stroke are “old people’s diseases.”  Yet, I’m living proof that heart disease and stroke can affect anyone at any age.  I was born with a heart defect and at six months old, I had a successful surgery to correct the issue.  Up until age 27, I lived a normal, healthy life, although unlike my peers, I had regular appointments with my cardiologist.

Then at age 27, I suffered a stroke.  While I didn’t have any residual effects from the stroke, my cardiologists still ran tests and found another congenital heart defect. A few months later, I had surgery to fix the defect.  I continue to have yearly checkups with my cardiologists, but I’m able to live a full life without restrictions.

While the journey was sometimes difficult, I’m doing well thanks to breakthrough research and medical advancements funded by organizations, such as the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.

But the need for more research is unquestionable.  In the U.S., nearly 40,000, children are born with a heart defect each year and nearly 800,000 people suffer strokes.

This year, I will share my journey at the Shoreline Heart Walk and support the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association to help raise funds and awareness for the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers, heart disease and stroke. 

Join me at the 2016 Shoreline Heart Walk on Saturday, October 29 at FirstEnergy Park, home of the Lakewood Blueclaws.  For more information, visit


Christine Rochelle

Volunteer, American Heart Association and American Stroke Association

Wall, NJ