I have been connected with Kimberly Goodloe on LinkedIn for several years now. During this period, she has shared with me her journey as a Heart Disease Survivor, and details of her role as an American Heart Association Ambassador.
Kimberly is originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee. She resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband of 22 years, Victor and their two children, son AJ who's in the 11th grade, and daughter, Mariah who's in the 8th grade.
Q1: What experience(s) led up to your work as an American Heart Association Ambassador?
Kimberly: On February 12, 2009, I had open heart surgery. A few days later, I had to undergo additional surgery for a pacemaker. A year later, my doctor discovered that my pacemaker wasn't working as well as it should, so I had a pacemaker revision surgery to correct the problem.
Q2: Why were these experiences instrumental in your work as an American Heart Ambassador?
Kimberly: These three surgeries put me on an emotional roller coaster. I felt a strong need to help others going through similar experiences. I had to find a way to give back.
Q3: How did you become an American Heart Ambassador?
Kimberly: In 2010, I drove to the American Heart Association office in Marietta, GA and filled out a volunteer application. After being accepted as a volunteer and working in that role within the organization, they saw that I was consistent and dependable so they asked me if I would be interested in becoming an American Heart Ambassador.
Q4: What are the responsibilities of an American Heart Association Ambassador?
Kimberly: As an American Heart Association Ambassador, I speak throughout our community on the importance of heart health. I encourage people to be proactive towards their heart health while educating them with tips and strategies on how they can take ownership of their personal health issues.
Q5: How do you suggest that people be proactive toward their health?
Kimberly: Lots of people are afraid to talk to their doctors about their personal health issues. It's important to develop a relationship with your doctor so he or she understands they are dealing with an informed patient. I suggest that they conduct their own research via the Internet and/or the public library. Creating a journal of your health concerns and taking it with you when you visit your doctor helps you remember issues you need to discuss. Of course, I recommend that they use the vast resources available to the public on the American Heart Association website here.
Q6: In what ways have your heart health journey changed your mindset and transformed you?
Kimberly: I am a Christian. These experiences have led me to experiencing a deeper, richer and rewarding relationship with God. After being told that the bottom half of my heart was no longer functioning and undergoing my pacemaker revision surgery, I feel as if I have been given another chance to make the most of my life.
Q8: Were there moments when you felt like giving up?
Kimberly: I didn't feel like giving up. My children were young when I was undergoing these procedures. Giving up was not an option.
Q9: Who kept you motivated while you were in the hospital and now, toward the work you are doing in the community?
Kimberly: My husband, Victor, my children, AJ and Mariah, my Pastor, Church family, Radical Love Family, medical staff, family, relatives, Diamond In the Rough family, American Heart Association Staff, neighbors, & friends.
Q10: How have you stepped out of your comfort zone in your role as an Ambassador?
I’ve travelled locally & out of state: sharing my story of triumph & healing at the American Heart Association’s National Center: Dallas, Texas: (July 2015). I was recently selected: National Volunteer Ambassador in the new AHA’s Heart Valve Disease Program. I took part in the American Heart Association’s Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. (April 2013). As a You’re The Cure Advocate, I’ve attended meetings at the Georgia State Capital, DeKalb County Board of Commission, health fairs, churches, etc. sharing my message and the importance of heart health.
Q11: What do you want the legacy of your work as an American Heart Association Ambassador to be in the minds and hearts of those you meet and serve?
Kimberly: So many people are suffering in silence. The legacy I am creating with my journey is to share how anyone can cope with heart disease in a healthy manner while dealing with daily challenges. I'm committed to educating & empowering cardiac patients & their families worldwide on the quality of life you can have after experiences such as mind. I'm spreading hope with my story while at the same time equipping people with the resources that they need. People shouldn't feel that they are alone on their journey.
In 2014, Kimberly was recognized as a Point of Light for the work that she does as an American Heart Association Ambassador.
Q12: What were some additional resources you utilized during your heart surgery experience?
Kimberly: Right before the surgery, I set up a calling post account which allowed my husband, Victor to key in updates about my progress and the service forwarded messages to everyone on our calling list. This made it so much easier for everyone to stay abreast of what was happening during my surgeries and while I was recuperating from them. You can find out information about this service here.
Q13: Do you have any upcoming events?
Recently, I participated in the 2015 Atlanta Heart Walk which took place Saturday, September 26 at Centennial Olympic Park. This was my 6th year participating in the event.
This event supports medical research that leads to saving lives of those affected by heart/stroke disease. Each year, I walk in honor of every family who is or has had to experience the journey of someone they love having heart disease. I walk in celebration of my recovery from heart valve replacement and two pacemaker surgeries.
Stay Connected with Kimberly by visiting her health blog: http://wedobelieve.wordpress.com.
Please click the link below to receive information re; the newly established American Heart Association Heart Valve Disease Program........ http://blog.heart.org/ambassador-program-created-to-support-heart-valve-patients/
Q14: Last words?
Kimberly: I want to encourage those reading this post to know that whatever they may be facing; pray daily, develop a support team, find one reason to smile every day and never give up. “With God, all things are possible”
JB's Note: Both my mother and son died from cardiac arrest so the subject of heart health and funding is near and dear to my heart. I'm appreciative of this opportunity to share Kimberly’s story and journey with the GFF community. I pray that each reader of this article is blessed and that her story inspires someone to take measures to live a heart-healthy lifestyle while living their legacy out loud.
Photo Credit; Emoryrose Photography