October 1, 2004

Team leader takes Heart Walk personally

Featured Image

Heart Walk team leader Brent Lemonds, R.N., is using the Sunday, Oct. 10 event to help improve his health. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Team leader takes Heart Walk personally

For more than 24 years, Brent Lemonds, R.N., has worked in the health care profession, teaching resuscitation courses on both the basic and advanced levels. He serves as the administrative director of Emergency Services at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and knows all too well the impact heart disease has on this community.

When he was asked to serve as a division leader for the American Heart Walk it was a task Lemonds quickly attacked. Within days, he recruited captains who in turn would ask others to join the Vanderbilt Heart Walk team on Sunday, Oct. 10.

For Lemonds, the challenge was more than improving the health of the community through the funds he would help raise — he knew he needed to make a commitment to change as well.

And with that in mind, he sent out his fundraising letter in June asking for assistance that went beyond soliciting walkers.

“I knew that I had not done all that I could do personally to lose weight,” Lemonds said. “I was doing all I could do with my diet, but there was more I should be doing and just wasn’t. I had to change. It’s the hardest thing in the world to change your habits. It was my motivation, going public.”

Earlier this year Lemonds began a weight-loss program that was proving successful for him. By July, he was halfway to his goal of losing 100 pounds. His waist was four inches smaller. But he had hit a wall and his weight was not decreasing.

“I am well aware that sudden death from heart disease is the No. 1 killer,” he said. “You can’t be in this field and not see the impact. It was time to push myself further.”

In the letter he asked his friends for support.

“I’m a 42-year-old male with one prior episode of chest pain,” the letter reads. “I have struggled with obesity since adolescence and do not find the time to engage in daily exercise … I am at great risk for heart disease and have a wife and three young children.”

The solicitation was called “Pay per Pound” and was geared to inspire Lemonds to lose weight leading up to this year’s Heart Walk to raise money for the American Heart Association.

It worked.

Between July 1 an Aug. 20, Lemonds was able to lose an additional 7.6 pounds, renew his commitment to healthy living, raise $450 for AHA as well as convert his temporary membership to the Kim Dayani Center to a permanent one.

“I have been consistently involved in a regular exercise program for the first time in my life,” he said.

“I must admit that exercise has become more enjoyable and I am experiencing more benefits from being able to work out my stress at the end of the day.”

The combined pledges of $54.50 per pound will surely help this one Vanderbilt team reach its goal of raising $10,000 for the annual walk.

“There are very few families that heart disease will not touch in some way,” Lemonds said. “This is a very good cause to take personally as well as support financially.” If you would like to make a pledge to the AHA or walk in the Heart Walk, contact Lemonds at 6-1525 or e-mail him at Brent.Lemonds@Vanderbilt.edu.