The Cincinnati Heart Mini is more than just a marathon or a walk for Liz Hardman, a MRI/CT technologist at Mercy Health – Clermont Hospital.
“It’s about giving back to the American Heart Association for all they do,” she says.
The Heart Mini is Cincinnati’s largest single-day fundraiser. Each year, close to 30,000 registrants come together to participate in a heart-healthy exercise and raise life-saving funds to fight heart disease and stroke. Many individuals have a personal reason for participating, and Liz is no exception. Family is the reason she chooses to give back.
“Heart disease has affected our family more than once,” Liz shares.
Her own father had open heart surgery in his 80s, along with her husband’s father, who had his first heart attack at age 52 followed by 12-plus stents thereafter.
Liz also supports the Heart Mini because of her husband, who, at the age of 44, had open-heart surgery unexpectedly to replace a prolapsed mitral valve. Due to the extent of the prolapse, he had to have a mechanical valve placed. Heart disease is what forced him into early retirement from serving as a firefighter/paramedic.
Liz’s husband was a firefighter/paramedic in Las Vegas, Nev. for 23 years with Clark County Fire Department. While in Las Vegas, he was the CPR, ACLS and PALS instructor, chairman of the American Heart Association (AHA) Southern Nevada Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee (ECC), AHA regional faculty for ACLS and CPR and AHA national faculty for PALS. He created the AED Program in the hotel/casino industry and testified on behalf of the AHA in front of Congress for the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act (CASA), which ultimately led to AEDs being placed in all federal buildings.
During this time, Liz was spearheading the opening of an imaging suite for heart patients at Nevada Heart and Vascular Institute, which consisted of a group of cardiologists who treated all forms of heart disease, vascular disease and electrical abnormalities of the heart. Liz provided the imaging for these patients who had known heart and vascular disease. This imaging helped the cardiologists form a plan of treatment that consisted of catheterization, surgical intervention or less invasive treatments.
“This was not only a learning experience, but also a challenging one,” Liz says. “The patients we scanned on a daily basis all had heart or vascular disease. This made getting quality imaging a challenge sometimes, but I loved it.”
Public service runs in the family as Liz’s youngest son is now a firefighter/paramedic for the City of Cincinnati. He has had more than his fair share of chances to apply lifesaving care developed by the AHA, and his department is involved with the AHA’s Mission: Lifeline program.
When Liz joined the care team at Clermont Hospital five years ago, it was only natural for her to support the Heart Mini and the 5K walk that our ministry sponsors. This is her second year serving as a team captain and she was co-captain for two years.
“There isn’t one person who isn’t affected by heart disease in some sort of way,” she says. “That’s why creating a Heart Mini team that is full of support for one another is key. At Clermont Hospital, we are a family and we all work very well together, but we also like competition. That spirit of competition is why we strive to go beyond what we raised the year before, not only as a team but individually as well.”
It’s that competitive drive that’s led Liz to build the 2022 Mercy Health Heart Mini team with the most participants. Liz laughed when she heard the news.
“I don’t wait for people to come to me to sign up, I go to them. I encourage them to get involved and let them know that each person can help make a difference.”
She continues, “This year we recognized those that signed up. We started off by recognizing the first person that joined our team. This creates a feeling of empowerment and encourages others to sign up. When we hit fundraising milestones, we would have a morning huddle raffle consisting of gift cards to their favorite places. These rewards remind the team that we are working together toward a goal with good cause.”
All of these registrations and related donations raise money for the American Heart Association. However, being a top team builder doesn’t guarantee that Liz will be walking with her team on Sunday, March 22.
“In the past years, I have always been working on that day,” she shares. “One year I will actually get to walk. Who knows, maybe this is my year!”
At Mercy Health, we are a proud partner of the American Heart Association as well as a sponsor of their Heart Mini-Marathon & Walk in Cincinnati.
This year’s event is taking place on Sunday, March 13. Register or donate today!