“I went into cardiac arrest on vacation in downtown Aspen. I was 37 and the healthiest person I knew. I was a triathlete and went skiing the day before. Turns out I wasn’t as healthy as I thought I was. I was born with a genetic malfunction in the electrical part of my heart. The symptoms where there but always diagnosed as something else. When I went into cardiac arrest in a store, I got lucky because the owner knew what to do. Paramedics were eating lunch two doors down and got there quickly with an AED. They saved my life.
The doctors gave me a one percent chance to make it out of the hospital and zero percent chance to function independently. I am a one percenter. I did sales with a huge financial company and traveled five states. I can’t do that anymore because it is too much on my heart. No more triathlons or 9-to-5 jobs. I lived on level ten all of the time and was medicated down to a level two. That was difficult, That was six years ago and every year I think I should be getting better and back to normal. That is not going to happen because every year I am also getting older and the heart muscle decreases as you age. This is not how my brain thought recovery was going to go. I have a pacemaker and defibrillator for a safety net when my heart stops beating. We live very close to three hospitals and can get there any time I have a problem. Things have been good so far and I was allowed to leave the country for the first time last year.
I started the Joy Fund Project to raise funds and awareness for AEDs. They are portable defibrillators that are easy to use and tell you what to do. Churches, schools, stores, and government buildings need them. An AED costs $1200 and saving a life is worth that. Mobile County public schools didn’t have them but I met with them last summer and showed them the state requires AEDs and there are now two in each school.
I woke up one morning wanting to sew and repurpose vintage tablecloths from the 1940’s and 50’s and bring them back to a new generation. Maybe it is because I now feel like I am an old soul. I didn’t own a sewing machine or know how to sew but a good friend had designed clothes in Puerto Rico and taught me. I started making one of a kind French-style aprons and selling them for The JOY FUND Project about five years ago. It is crazy that people are still buying the ideas that come out of my head. We charge $45 for an apron but I put $40 and labor into it. It is more about communication and putting a face and story with a need than making money. We are raising awareness by repurposing, recycling, reusing. I feel like that is my story. I have been recycled reused and I have a new purpose, too.”