It’s been a while since my last such entreaty–December, to be precise, when we changed blog formats and this old dog had to learn new software and, well, we all know how THAT goes with folks in my demographic. Old dog + new tricks = much frustration, occasional cursing and frequent questioning of professional life choices, as in, “Maybe it’s time to hit the ol’ radio ice floe sooner rather than later.”
Cooler and more patient heads prevailed, lights went on and I’m embracing the new digital me, all while hoping I don’t crash the station website. Or post something that gets us banned on YouTube. It could happen. If you come to our homepage one morning and find nothing but a digital ash heap, rest assured my fingerprints will be all over that mess.
Until then, on to business. And business was especially good Friday morning as our latest WTMJ Cares campaign came to a climax with a two-hour radionthon benefiting the American Heart Association. In the course of those 120 minutes our listeners contributed in excess of $15,500 dollars, with every cent set to stay in Southeastern Wisconsin, funds that’ll be used for education, information, equipment and training in the fight against heart disease which, not-so-fun fact, remains the nation’s leading cause of death.
Over the course of the past few weeks, I had the privilege of meeting folks who lived to tell of their brushes with what one of them called “the invisible illness.” That includes a then-34 year old woman who became the youngest female in the world to have heart bypass surgery. That was in 1974 when what then passed for modern medicine didn’t think such things happened to the ladies. She’s 80 today and feisty as all get-out, eager to share her story. Then there’s the Marquette freshman who dove for a loose ball at a high school basketball tournament and went into cardiac arrest–something we don’t associate with teenagers.
Which was the point of this exercise: don’t think of heart disease in the stereotype, because it doesn’t follow any rules. It isn’t just an “old guy’s” issue. It doesn’t discriminate. It strikes the young as well as the elderly, men as well as women. Healthy folks aren’t immune, either.
Strides are being made, and the Association is doing its best to get the word out, to fund vitally needed research, to be pro-active when it comes to getting AED’s into public schools, making sure 911 dispatchers are able to talk callers through basic CPR. No, our $15,500 isn’t going to cure anything but it can help the mission and that’s not a bad thing.
Not at all.
Your generosity made our day Friday. The ability of WTMJ listeners to deliver never ceases to amaze. The FCC hands us a privilege and a responsibility when it hands us a license to broadcast–sure, they say, you’re free to do radio business and make money but along with that comes the obligation to serve your community. That means news, information and events like WTMJ Cares which is nothing without you. We’ve been able to do some pretty amazing things over the years. Add this past Friday to the list. “National Wear Red Day” was awash in green, all because of you folks on the other end of that microphone we slobber into. All thanks to you.
Personal thanks to my GKB teammates who supported the mission through hard word: the folks in promotion/marketing, the sales staff, the volunteers and, of course, Wisconsin’s Morning News producer Rachel Frye who seamlessly and selflessly does so much on so many platforms to make sure Cares stayed top of mind and I don’t look like a klutz.
Sadly, you probably don’t have to think very long or hard to find someone in your life who’s had a heart issue. Might be someone with high blood pressure. You might have relative or friend trying to come back from a stroke. Perhaps you’ve lost someone you cared about to a sudden heart attack, as was the case with my wife as the Cares campaign was coming to an end. A neighbor and former high school classmate of hers died of an apparent heart attack, moments after seeing his son collapse of what also is thought to be a heart issue at an outdoor event. Father and son, dead within moments of each other of suspected heart disease. Invisible illness, indeed.
Cares may be over, but the problem is still among us. Take care of yourself. Be your own best health advocate–see you doctors, demand answers if something doesn’t seem/feel right. Nag relatives and friends–it’s a sign of love, honest. Learn CPR. Familiarize yourself with your school/office AED. Be ready when the unthinkable suddenly happens. You could save a life. Honest.
And that would be a pretty awesome day, too.