BREWSTER, N.Y. - Mahopac heart disease survivor Robin Zencheck will be the honoree this year at the annual American Heart Association (AHA) Heart Walk event, which is set for Sunday, April 23, at Brewster High School.

Zencheck was introduced last Thursday at the AHA volunteer kick-off breakfast at The Plaza at Clover Lake in Brewster. 

The event kicked off American Heart Month activities and served as a rally for more than 60 local organizations who support the Heart Walk event.

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AHA Board Chair, Sheriff Donald Smith, and Board President, Dr. Patrick Thomas, both shared heart health information with the audience. 

Zencheck then shared her story of survival from a rare disease called amyloidosis, which is a condition in which abnormal proteins are deposited in the body’s tissues where they accumulate and replace normal tissue over time. This disease can cause the kidney, heart, liver and gastrointestinal tract or nerves to function poorly and organs to fail. In Zencheck's case, it was her heart. Symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing when lying down, swelling in the ankles and legs and palpitations. 

Zencheck has had not one, but two heart transplants; the second also included a kidney transplant. According to a press release, she is grateful for the precious gifts she received from organ donors and for advances in surgical procedures, which gave her a new lease on life. Procedures like cardiac catheterization, heart transplant and bypass surgery were all used to save her life, and all were American Heart Association-funded research contributions.

Funds raised from the Heart Walk event support the AHA’s life-saving programs of awareness, education and research. The American Heart Association funds 2,100 scientists around the United States and currently supports 104 research scientists in New York State with awards totaling $23,668,785 in value.

Though science and research can save many lives from heart disease, AHA leaders reminded people that prevention, like eating healthier and walking more, were key to lowering the devastating number of deaths from heart disease. The Heart Walk’s goal is to get people walking. AHA wellness programs are available for companies and organizations online at heart.org/workplacewellness or by contacting a local AHA representative.

Teams and individuals are encouraged to register for the Heart Walk online at putnamheartwalk.org. For team and sponsor information, call AHA Corporate Development Director Danielle Schuka at 845-867-5379 or email her at Danielle.schuka@heart.org.

The Heart Walk is sponsored nationally by Subway and locally by Putnam Hospital Center, NYU Langone - Hudson Valley Cardiology, PracticeMax, Park Ford, Volz Auto and media sponsors including Mahopac News.