City gets on a roll for Heart Association

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 24, 2001

Features Editor

Jan. 23, 2001 10 PM

When it comes to the American Heart Association, the city of Troy employees are on the ball and soon they’ll be on a roll.

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The city employees have come up with a novel idea to support the American Heart Association. They are soliciting tennis ball sponsors who will compete for two $250 cash prizes on Feb. 23.

Each person who purchases a tennis ball for $10 will have his or her name written on the ball. At 10 a.m. on

Feb. 23, Tennis Ball Roll for Heart Day, all of the balls will be loaded in a city dump truck. The truck will be driven to a hill, which has yet to be determined. The truck will dump the load of tennis balls down the hill and the two balls that roll the greatest distance before coming to a complete stop will win the prize money for their sponsors.

"The tennis ball roll is an opportunity to support a very worthwhile cause and bring awareness to heart disease as a major health treat to society," said Jake Wingard, honorary chairperson for the city’s fundraiser.

Wingard knows how important the work of the American Heart Association is. He owes his health today to early detection of a problem with his heart and the surgery that gave him a new lease on life.

All of the advances in heart research and treatment made it possible for him to overcome four blockages and return to work, healthy and feeling better than he had in a long time.

In 1996, Wingard said he came home from work every day extremely tired.

"I wasn’t doing that much more than I usually did, but I was so tired at the end of every day," he said. "I didn’t have any kind of pain or discomfort. I was just so tired."

Wingard had missed his last annual checkup, so he decided he had better go in for a physical. That decision proved to be a wise one.

"They did

an EKG and it showed that something was wrong," Wingard said. "My doctor sent me to a specialist and he found that I had had a heart attack and I didn’t even know it. They began to look for the reason I had the attack and they found that I had four clogged arteries. One was blocked 97 percent, one 94 percent, one 82 percent and the other 80 percent."

Wingard underwent bypass surgery and came through it without any complications.

"I was about 50 years old and in good shape and I think that helped me get over the surgery without any problems," he said. "Of course, any time you have bypass surgery it’s serious, but I’m just glad they could correct the problem and I could get back to life as usual."

Wingard was out of work for a month and he said he feels strong and is no longer tired at the end of a day’s work.

"I can’t say enough about the importance of having regular checkups," he said. "They can save your life. And, it’s important to eat right and I try to do that, too. I try to take care of myself and I encourage others to do the same."

Because of his experience, Wingard is a strong supporter of the American Heart Association.

"The city of Troy employees realize how important it is that we all maintain healthy hearts," he said. "By supporting the American Heart Association, we are helping to fund research that results in awareness, prevention and treatment of heart disease."

Wingard joined the other city employees in encouraging everyone to "get on the ball" in the fight against heart disease by purchasing a tennis ball and competing in the Tennis Ball Roll, Feb. 23.

Used tennis balls are needed, so those who have balls that have lost their bounce, but will still "roll for heart" are asked to donate them to the Tennis Ball Roll. Balls may be taken to City Hall where any city employee will gladly accept them. Balls may also be purchased at City Hall or from any city employee.

But, don’t wait to be asked, get your name on a ball and you might be the long roller and the winner of $250.