I don’t have much for a blog today, but I did give a speech at the local elementary school for an American Heart Association and I thought I’d let y’all read what I wrote. The speech went very little like this, but it’s kind of an outline. I dropped the ball and forgot to say the best joke in the speech about the spelling test, though. Dummy…

Before we get into why I’m here, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I’m 24 years old right now. I grew up here in Perham and I even went to school at Heart of the Lakes. I currently live in Perham, I work at ACS and I’m a cross country and basketball coach.

Do you mind if I ask you guys a question? Is there anything different or strange looking about me?

There is something a lot different about me than probably most of you. When I was born, I had a problem with my heart. Nobody knew that I had a heart problem until I was 19-years old when I had a cardiac arrest. What that means is that my heart stopped beating because of a heart disease I have called Arrhythmogenic Right Ventrical Dysplasia. Don’t worry, your teachers told me that won’t be on your spelling tests for a few more weeks.

My friends were smart and called 911 right away. The ambulance came in about two minutes. Have you guys ever seen doctors on tv shows or movie put paddles on a person and yell out “Clear!” Those paddles are actually called a defibrillator. When a heart is having trouble beating on it’s own, the defibrillator actually gives out an electric shock to help get the heart going again.

I spent a few days in the hospital and I had surgery to have a defibrillator put inside my chest. Just so you can kind of see, it’s about the size of a deck of cards. The reason I got that defibrillator put in me is just in case my heart ever starts acting funny again. Another person who has a defibrillator inside of his chest is the Vice President Dick Chaney.

Anyway, about two months ago, I was coaching 5th and 6th grade basketball here at Heart of the Lakes. I started feeling dizzy and I fell over. My heart actually stopped again, but my defibrillator was able to get it going right away. I think I scared quite a few of your teachers, though. Unfortunately, when I fell over, I broke my nose and got a big black eye. Does anyone remember when the cross country team to visit you guys in the hallway? You guys might remember one of the coaches had a big ugly looking black eye. That was me, but as you can see, my eye has healed and I’m as healthy as ever.

Can I get a show of hands – How many of you like to exercise? Me, too! Besides being fun to do, exercise is great for your heart. A big part of the reason I decided to come and speak to you today is because I think it’s important that you all get enough exercise. Exercise can help prevent heart disease and help you to live a longer, happier life.

Sometimes, when people hear the word heart disease, they think of old people. I’m living proof that it affects younger people too. In order to try to prevent heart disease, you need to eat healthy and exercise. For some people, though, eating healthy and exercising isn’t enough. I used to be a marathon runner meaning I’d run 26.2 miles at a time for fun. Can you believe anyone would run that far for fun? I don’t know what I was thinking.

Anyway, I ate pretty healthy and I exercised a lot. Luckily for me, new technology like the defibrillator have allowed me to go on living life. That’s the reason it’s so important that you guys help raise money with your Hoops for Heart. The money that you raise will go to research to discover new ways to help treat heart disease. Right now, there is no cure for the heart disease that I have, but someday their might be thanks to the work that is being done by the American Heart Association. The money you guys will raise will help save lives.

First of all, I want to say a big thanks for letting me come speak to you guys today. I help you all go out and have fun with the Hoops for Heart. I want to thank you in advance for the awesome work you guys are going to do because it’s because of the work done by kids like your that I’m around to talk to you today. Thanks!

If you’re out on your bike tonight, do wear white,