Kevin Kabrey – Why I Walk
At the age of 12, Kevin was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and had to give up all sports
and physical exercise as a precaution. In the years that followed, he had three heart surgeries and multiple doctor and medication changes before getting to where he is now – a healthy and active adult. Last year, his doctor released him to exercise and he chose the Kansas City Heart Walk as his first event.
The American Heart Association’s Heart Walk is important: it's important to me, it’s important to you, and it's important to society. Heart disease and stroke are so prevalent; we all know someone affected by this. The American Heart Association is helping to fix this and they need our help to succeed.
The Heart Walk was the ultimate championship for me. I was a three-sport athlete my whole life - then I was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The news was devastating, no more sports. You could die of sudden death. You have to follow these rules and live your life inside of this box. What followed were tears, anger, depression. All of this was amplified by the fact I was 12 years old, entering the spring of seventh grade, with big dreams of high school ahead of me, and it was all shattering in front of my eyes.
I went through five cardiologists in three cities, three heart surgeries, and then, in January of 2016, I was given the news that my disease was stable and I could live a more normal life. My doctor told me I was free to exercise, play recreational sports and live more freely. Now I do have to take my medicine and go for my annual ICD check, but that's a fair trade to be able to run after the dogs or ride a bike with my wife.
I chose the Heart Walk as my first major physical activity goal because it was such a fitting exclamation point to my journey. I celebrated beating heart disease by running a race to benefit those with heart disease. What better way? Without the American Heart Association, I truly believe I wouldn't have had ground-breaking surgeries and I would still be living life in that box. I dream of a time where all heart disease patients get the victory I did and I can celebrate with them at the Heart Walk in KC or anywhere in the United States!!
I encourage everyone with and without heart disease to come to the Kansas City Heart Walk, join a team, come alone, bring a friend, bring the family - just come! The first step is coming. Once you are there, you are surrounded by thousands of people supporting all those who have and are battling heart disease, along with preventing many others from ever getting heart disease. They are all there for us, to help raise money to help us. Talk about a support system! If you can't make it to the KC Heart Walk, go to the closest one to you. You can run a 5k, walk a mile or just come and hangout. Whatever decision you make, deciding to come to Heart Walk will be such a great step in helping pave the future for you, your friends, and your family.