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Full force of volunteers needed to fight heart disease: Become a Big Heart Appeal street collection volunteer

Big-hearted volunteers will be out in full force in February 2024 as part of the Heart Foundation’s biggest fundraiser of the year, the Big Heart Appeal, which kicks off once again on streets across New Zealand.

“Heart disease can happen to anyone, anywhere at any time,” says Heart Foundation Medical Director Dr Gerry Devlin. “Sadly, the gains we were seeing in heart disease have slowed down and we’re now seeing an increase in numbers globally, including more young people being affected. 

“The Big Heart Appeal funds our investment into world-class heart research and overseas training for New Zealand cardiologists so they can bring the latest skills and treatments back to benefit Kiwis living with heart disease.”

The Heart Foundation is calling on big-hearted New Zealanders to gift a couple of hours of their time on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 February 2024 to volunteer as a street collector and raise funds for heart research.

“With heart disease claiming the life of one Kiwi every 90 minutes, volunteering for us is a vital way you can help in the fight against New Zealand’s single biggest killer – heart disease,” says Gerry. 

“Proceeds from the Big Heart Appeal help fund a significant number of research projects each year, allowing us to keep making progress on improving the heart health of New Zealanders.

“The outcomes for people with heart attacks and other heart conditions have improved dramatically due to the work funded by the Heart Foundation but there is still a way to go.

“We want to continue these incredible advances and enable our researchers, innovators, doctors and nurses to keep shifting the dial to improve heart health for New Zealanders and their families.”

Jean McLarnon from Tauranga will be among the big-hearted volunteers giving her time to collect vital funds for heart research with a cause greater than most. Just last year her partner Bruce passed away after almost a decade of living with heart disease.

"Supporting the Heart Foundation is crucial because it truly is a lifesaver,” says Jean. “Many people have to contend with heart issues, and nearly everyone knows someone who's had heart problems. It's important that people are aware help is available for them, and they should never be afraid to ask for assistance or get checked out.”

After Bruce’s initial heart attack in 2014, he had a successful quadruple bypass that meant he could experience an improved quality of life for the next eight years.

“It's remarkable to see how much the Heart Foundation has contributed to improving heart surgery over the years," she says. “We were so thankful during the time of his recovery, and with Bruce being such a positive person, we decided to give something back. Without the heart research the Heart Foundation funds, heart operations like Bruce’s wouldn’t have been possible.”

Jean wants to encourage others to join her in supporting this worthy cause.

“It’s only a couple of hours out of my life, which is very easy to give,” she says. “We always need more people – we welcome all the help we can get, and I encourage volunteers to bring a friend with them – two hearts are even better than one.”

Heart disease can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime, even someone you love – sign up as a Big Heart Appeal street collection volunteer to help fund life-saving heart research today.

Sign up now