Dad was just 43 when he collapsed on that unforgettable day. He survived and lived for a further 30 years, but he was never the same again.
His quality of life was enormously compromised as all sorts of related conditions kept breaking down his formerly athletic frame. Towards the end, he was forced to have half his leg removed due to gangrene – one of the many life-threatening complications that stemmed from his failing heart.
Eventually, his heart just gave up and he passed away at 73… still way too young.
That experience changed my life forever. I was determined not to suffer the same fate as my dad. I never smoked, I ate healthy food, only ever drank in moderation and set out to become as fit as I could. As a result, I won seven Iron Man Championships and the World Iron Man title. In 1994, the Australian Institute of Sport crowned me "Australia's fittest athlete" and Inside Sport magazine dubbed me "the fittest man on the planet".
Whether or not that was true doesn't really matter. For me it was all about fighting back against heart disease… and when I became a dad myself, my wife and I made a pledge that we'd be role models for a healthy lifestyle and thus reduce the likelihood of our children contracting any heart condition. Our children's health starts with us.
Since finishing my athletic career, I've made it my mission to spread the word about living a healthy life. I jumped at the chance when asked to become an Ambassador for The Heart Research Institute. The scientists you support are fighting the battle where it counts most – in the laboratory, exploring every way possible to beat the world's greatest killer.
One example is the amazing work being done by Dr Fatiha Tabet of The Institute's Lipid Research Group. She's discovered that the beneficial effects of Human HDL (good cholesterol) can be mimicked using a synthetic drug, which is inexpensive to produce. This discovery's got huge therapeutic potential but the project needs funding of around $30,000 p.a. to continue.
It's too late to help my dad, but you and I can still help others, both by setting an example to our children and grandchildren and by giving ongoing support to The Heart Research Institute. Together we can give these brilliant scientists the best possible chance of making new discoveries that one day could end the threat of heart disease altogether.
Please, don't let your children or grandchildren experience what I went through with my dad. Send your donation today.
Thank you in anticipation of your urgently needed support.
Guy Leech Ambassador, The Heart Research Institute
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