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Fundraiser close to hot rodder’s heart

Hot rod car enthusiast David Swan is leading a Heart Foundation fundraiser this month, with memories of his own heart attack still fresh in his mind.

When David led his fellow hot rod club members in a fundraising event for the Heart Foundation last August, he knew very little about heart disease. In fact, he hadn’t even been in a hospital since the day he was born. 

But that all changed abruptly when the 64-year-old had a heart attack one month later while mowing the lawns at his Manly home. 

“I came inside puffing and blowing and had bad indigestion. It was terrible; I couldn’t get rid of it. I sat at the table bringing up wind for hours,” he recalls.  

David, who also mows lawns for a job, took some Quick-Eze and went back to work the next week – but he still felt awful. 

“I was really struggling and I’d come home every day and need a few hours’ sleep. There was something not right.”

Blood tests through his GP later in the week clearly showed David had suffered a heart attack. 

He was rushed to North Shore Hospital where he learned that an artery to his heart was 100% blocked. Within days, David had surgery and a stent was inserted to open the blood flow again. 

”It’s the first time I’ve ever been in hospital. Up until then I’d been pretty good because I’ve been mowing lawns for 16 years. I stupidly told my wife they’d find me dead behind my lawnmower one day. It very nearly happened!”

Now on the road to recovery, David says he feels very lucky to be alive. 

“It didn’t happen how I expected a heart attack would, like you see in the movies. You think of these massive chest pains but that didn’t happen for me. Now I tell all my friends that if you have indigestion, sweating or shortness of breath like that, get yourself checked out.”

With his new passion for raising awareness about heart disease, Dave has now organised another fundraiser for the Heart Foundation, to tie in with our Annual Appeal running through February. 

As president of the Hibiscus Rodders Club, David will lead the group in a hot rod car display at Orewa Surf Club reserve on Sunday February 14, from 9:30 – 11:30am. Other clubs from around the region have also been invited. 

Members of the public are welcome to attend the family-friendly ‘Heart Day’ event, which will feature a range of hot rods and classic cars, free blood pressure checks, free face painting, and the chance to take part in Jump Rope for Heart skipping. 

Our larger-than-life mascot Hearty will also be there to entertain the kids and give away balloons. 

After the event at Orewa, members of the club will cruise in convoy to Wenderholm for a sausage sizzle for the club, a red-themed picnic of healthy food, and prizes for the best red-dressed car and best red-dressed male and female. Local businesses have kindly chipped in with prizes. 

All money raised by the event will help fund the Heart Foundation’s fight against heart disease, which is New Zealand’s single biggest killer. 

View more Heart Foundation events