After recovering from a nearfatal heart attack, one Burnaby resident has made the leap from patient to participant in the upcoming Rhythm of Life Fun Run.
It was 1989, and Al Blackwell was playing a game of racquetball at Bonsor Recration Centre when he first got chest pains.
"I had no idea what they were," he told the Burnaby NOW. "We stopped playing, and then my wife talked me into going to the hospital."
Blackwell had his heart checked out at the hospital, and it's something he's been living with ever since.
"My first big heart attack was in 1996, and I was taken to Burnaby Hospital where my pulse and blood pressure were dropping significantly," he said. "And then about a month after, I had a bypass operation. I just had a second bypass operation in February of this year."
Blackwell, 67, has also had a couple of minor heart attacks in November 2009, and he joined Burnaby Hospital's Healthy Heart Program in March 2010.
"My heart's in pretty good condition, it functions well. I try to be active. I've always been overweight, but I try to have a fairly active lifestyle," he added. "The (program) is just to improve my health, and the Fun Run comes along with it."
That's why Blackwell is doing the Fun Run - the fundraising event's proceeds support the Healthy Heart Program and high priority needs at Burnaby Hospital, and he wanted to give something back.
"I've been in and out of the hospital a number of times," he said. "I decided I should return the favour to the hospital to pay them back a little bit for all the work they've done for me."
Although he won't be running in the upcoming event, Blackwell said he intends to walk with his wife in the five-kilometre run or walk.
"She's joining me to participate in it herself," she said.
Blackwell has also volunteers in the hospital's Hearts on the Mend program. It's for patients who are currently suffering from the aftermath of a heart problem, they get visited by someone like Blackwell to help them through the process.
"We tell them it's not the end of the world," he said. "When you have a heart attack, sometimes they feel they can't get past it. We try to tell them life isn't over yet, and that they should get back on their feet and enjoy life again."
The Rhythm of Life event's 15th anniversary is coming up at Burnaby Lake Regional Park on Sept. 8, starting at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex at 3760 Sperling Ave.
To see a video of last year's event or for more information on registering, visit www.bhfounda tion.ca/events/run. There will also be registration on the day of the run at 8:30 a.m. Highlights include a 10-kilometre fun run, five-kilometre run or walk, or a family stroll for kilometre.
The event will feature a live entertainment stage, including Science World's On the Road show, the Rogue Messengers and the Carnival Band. A White Spot food truck will be on site, as well as family fun activities and a marketplace.
There were 500 participants last year, and the foundation is preparing for a bigger event this year.
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