Blog from FH Advocate for Awareness - Mackenzie

Racing to End Family Heart Disease – Me, Grandpa Lyle and the Race for FH

30 different workouts in 7 weeks. You may be wondering how I got here. Well, to answer that, we have to go back a little bit.

In 1966 (ok, we’re going back a lot), Lyle Hill was dancing with his wife at the Elk’s Club when he had a heart attack. He died that night at just 30 years old. His daughter, Debby, grew up without her dad, and had her own heart complications – having an emergency quadruple bypass at 42 years old.

Debby had me – a chatty, independent, nerd-girl who’s also at high risk for early heart disease. What do we all have in common? Other than being ridiculously good looking, incredibly charming, and stunningly humble, we all have familial hypercholesterolemia (FH).

FH is a genetic disorder that causes early levels of high cholesterol starting at birth. There’s a longer, more scientific explanation, but you can check out resources from the Family Heart Foundation for that.

What I want to emphasize here is that it’s a family disorder. This is a bittersweet aspect of having FH. You have your family to go through it with you, but if you don’t know any other families like yours, it can be oddly isolating.

Grandfather of Advocate for Awareness, Mckenzie

That’s what led me to the Family Heart Foundation. When I first discovered it, I was beyond shocked to see that not only were there other “cursed” families like mine, but enough to warrant an entire foundation!

I became an Family Heart Foundation Patient Advocate in the spring of 2015. What has the foundation brought into my life? So glad you asked. In the last few years I know I’ve gained:

  • A better understanding of my own condition
  • A platform to tell my family’s story
  • Allies in the medical community
  • Knowledge on old and emerging treatments
  • Support in maneuvering certain health care hoops
  • A community
  • Unique and lasting friendships
FH Advocate for Awareness, Mackenzie, yoga challenge

That’s why I’ve always participated in the #Race4FH, the Family Heart Foundation’s annual virtual race. It’s my way to give back to a community who has given me so much. It’s a fundraiser to keep the work of the Family Heart Foundation going.

Three years ago, I started with a virtual 5k so I hit the pavement and learned how to be a runner. Spoiler – I’m not a runner. That’s why this year I decided to challenge myself in different ways.

And now we’ve arrived at the 30 workouts in 7 weeks. The 30 workouts are to honor the 30 years of my Grandfather Lyle’s life over the 7 weeks of the Race for FH. My goal is more than raising money (money is nice, though). I’m hoping to use my #FHysicalChallenge as a way to show my fellow non-runners that there are so many other ways to get up and get moving.

While marathons are fun for some, you know what else is fun? Zumba classes. Strength training. Walking your dog. Climbing rock walls. So. Many. Things.

So if you don’t want to run, I hear you, but that doesn’t mean you’re excluded from the fitness world. If you can’t do high-impact, high-intensity workouts, I hear you, but it doesn’t mean you can’t get a healthy heart. If you hate yoga, I HEAR YOU, but that doesn’t mean your perfect workout doesn’t exist.

That’s why my #Race4FH this year is ditching the running in search of my perfect workout – something I think Grandpa Lyle would happy to hear.

To follow my #FHysicalChallenge, you can read my blog here. You’ll get full reviews of all my workouts, and maybe you’ll see an exercise that speaks to you. And don’t forget to sign up for the Race for FH and join in on the fun!

Mackenzie is a freelance writer in Raleigh, North Carolina who loves jotting down her thoughts, both quirky and serious. When she’s not writing, she’s enjoying any number of Netflix selections with her beloved corgi mix, Maggie.

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