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Passionate volunteer continues to champion heart health in Cromwell

Every year, volunteers like Amy Young come together to support the Heart Foundation's Big Heart Appeal street collection in February. But for Amy, this heartfelt mission goes beyond a yearly tradition as she takes on the role of an area coordinator for the first time in Cromwell.

Photo by Southern Institute of Technology, Invercargill

Around ten years ago, Amy's world was turned upside down when her mother tragically suffered a fatal heart attack on Christmas Day in 2014. 

“My mum was just 54 years old at the time, which is quite young,” she says. This painful loss left a mark on Amy, motivating her to get involved where she could in the fight against heart disease.

“I started doing a Mother's Day run for the Heart Foundation,” she says. “It used to be an annual 5k event held in Queenstown and was my way of paying tribute to my mother's memory.”   

But heart disease was no stranger to Amy's family. Her grandfather had also succumbed to a heart attack at the age of 63. The hereditary link was evident, and Amy was determined to make a difference.

In 2018, Amy's dedication to raising funds for heart research led her to collaborate with her local squash club. 

“Together we organised a fundraising event that raised about $7.5k for the Heart Foundation thanks to the support from the Cromwell community,” she recalls.

The following year, Amy took her commitment to the next level by actively participating in the Big Heart Appeal street collection. With every year, her involvement grew, and in 2024, she is proudly assuming the role of an area coordinator in Cromwell.  

For Amy, her dedication to the Big Heart Appeal is driven by a passionate belief in raising awareness for heart health. 

“Lots of people don’t understand the potential impact of heart disease on their lives and the lives of their loved ones,” she says. “I’ve taken it on as my mission to change that perception and get the message out about the importance of heart health.”

Amy emphasizes that heart attacks can happen suddenly and without warning, just as they did in her mother's and grandfather's cases. 

“It's crucial,” she says, “to educate people about the signs of a heart attack and promote a heart-healthy lifestyle.”

Additionally, Amy is aware of the research aspect of the Heart Foundation's work. She acknowledges that ongoing research can lead to better understanding and prevention of heart disease.

“I know that the Heart Foundation makes huge efforts behind the scenes to find researchers who are capable of making breakthroughs in cardiology.”

Amy's passion extends to the support of those dedicated to advancing heart research, like her friend's partner, Dr Sudish Lal, who was awarded a Heart Foundation fellowship in 2018 to train in Canada. He conducted echocardiography and clinical research at the Division of Cardiology at St Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver.

“We need more volunteers to help spread the word and raise funds,” she says. “Even a couple of hours of volunteer work can make a significant difference. By fundraising, you can contribute to the ongoing research, raise awareness and help prevent heart disease.”

As Amy and her fellow volunteers gear up for the Big Heart Appeal street collection on Friday 23 February and Saturday 24 February 2024, they carry with them a shared passion to ensure that heart health remains a priority. 

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