Getting at the Heart of It

16 Feb, 2013

by Jenna Kashou

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It can strike at any time, take a victim of any age, and is the number one killer of women. Heart disease is a cause that clearly deserves everyone’s attention.

Last week was the 35th annual Heart Ball and a majority of the time it’s been at the Pfister Hotel. With over 350 guests in attendance, the American Heart Association raised  $145,885 in support of the event. This will go towards the more than $14 Million invested in 137 different projects in Wisconsin over the past 5 years.

Jay Matz, Communications Director, introduced me to 13-year-old Amber Jahr, the featured speaker of the evening. She collapsed in gym class three years ago of a heart attack – that’s right, a heart attack at age 10.

Amber had the flu, which went to her heart, causing it to inflame, setting off the attack. They used CPR and an AED (Automatic External Difibulator) at the school to revive her. She now has an ICD defibrillator implanted in her heart in case it ever happens again.

“I don’t really remember all of it, but I know my friends and family were really scared,” Amber recalls. “Once in a while I get teary eyed about it, but I am used to talking about it now.”

She was calm and poised, like an innocent victim telling her story to the jury. She’s obviously told her story more than once before and from that has gained a wisdom and maturity well beyond her age.

Amber had to take it easy for a while, but is a fully active “normal” 13-year-old teen. She lives with her family in Omro, near Oshkosh, and came into town for the evening to stay at the Pfister Hotel. Amber’s parents and sister were at the event to support here and help spread the word that no one is immune to matters of the heart.

The Jahr Family. Amber is third from the left.

The Jahr Family. Amber is third from the left.

 

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About the author

Jenna Kashou

A Milwaukee native and freelance writer, Kashou has published in local publications such as Milwaukee Magazine, M Magazine and the Shepherd Express. Find her weekly adventures of city life as MilwaukeeMag.com's ‘Girl About Town.’ Kashou earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa in mass communications and Spanish, and a graduate certificate in digital storytelling from Marquette University. By day, she is a grant writer for Radio Milwaukee and has worked in the nonprofit sector in arts and education for 10 years. In her spare time, she enjoys dabbling in everything from being a DJ and photography to do-it-yourself deco, yoga and rock climbing.

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